Yapp spot-on as Hong Kong lift Interport
Hong Kong lifted the annual Interport Cup against Guangdong after a thrilling 120 minutes, defeating the neighbours across the border after a penalty shoot-out in front of a 20,000 crowd at Huizhou Stadium.
Goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai saved three spot kicks to give the visitors a hard-earned 5-4 result in the second leg and overall victory after a 2-2 draw at home on Wednesday.
'I gained a lot of confidence in the penalty shoot-out and I didn't want to make my teammates' efforts go in vain,' said the South China goalkeeper. 'We battled hard throughout the match and did not deserve to lose in the shoot-out.
'Guangdong took the competition seriously this year, recalling many players from the Chinese Super League to strengthen their squad. The result proves Hong Kong soccer still has a future as long as we can work together as a team.'
Guangdong goalkeeper Yang Zhi, who is also a China international, injured his shoulder after saving two penalties in the first three rounds of during the shoot-out.
Centre-half Wang Weilong was forced to take up duty between the posts, but failed to stop any of Hong Kong's kicks. 'You cannot take anthing away from us despite Yang's injury in the crucial stages,' said acting HK coach Liu Chun-fai.
'It might have given us a distinct advantage, but we still held our opponents for 120 minutes before earning the shoot-out.'
Everything went according to plan as Liu played two defensive players in midfield in an effort to stop the mainlanders, while deploying speedy Jaimes McKee as support for another expatriate, Godfred Karikari, up front. While the home team were in control of much of the match, hitting the post in the second half, Karikari also missed a great chance in extra time when his shot was cleared off the line by defender Yuan Lin after rounding goalkeeper Yang.
Liu, who will hand the reins to newcomer Ernest Merrick next week, said it was a perfect ending after being appointed to the post in April.
'The Interport Cup against Guangdong is always an important tournament. We had lost it over the last two years. I have also led Hong Kong to success in the Long Teng Cup in Taiwan in September. For me, it has been a very successful nine months,' said Liu.
Hong Kong collected a winners' cheque of HK$300,000.
The number of saves Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai made during the penalty shoot-out