10-man Sun Hei spot on in Shield final
A spirited 10-man Sunray Cave Sun Hei upset South China in the Canbo Senior Shield final at Hong Kong Stadium last night, surviving a nervy penalty shoot-out after extra time failed to separate the sides who were deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Sun Hei goalkeeper Hou Yu, who is on loan from Chinese First Division side Sunray Cave, was the hero for Sun Hei as his acrobatic saves repeatedly denied the Caroliners in front of a 6,200-strong crowd, the biggest of the season.
Brazilian striker Giovane Alves da Silva, a former Sun Hei player, sent the ball high over the crossbar with the Caroliners' third kick in the shoot-out, while all five Sun Hei players found the target.
For South China, it must have seemed like groundhog day, after they lost last year's final to Citizen, also in a shoot-out.
Sun Hei captain Cristiano Cordeiro, who is in his last season in Hong Kong after arriving in 1998, was emotional after the thrilling victory.
'This is a wonderful result and truly a fantastic leaving present. I want to thank my teammates for this victory, I'll remember it always,' the 38-year-old said. 'The Senior Shield was the first trophy I won in my first year in Hong Kong and now it will also be my last in my final year. It's just amazing.'
The centre half attributed Sun Hei's success to team spirit, saying their positive attitude had made the difference. 'We were well beaten by South China in the league two weeks ago, but I vowed it wouldn't be the same in the cup final. Today we battled hard. We knew the only way to beat a big team like South China would be to have a positive attitude. We played with 10 men for more than 60 minutes, but it didn't weaken our morale at all.'
Fullback Li Hang-wui was shown a straight red card when he brought down South China flanker Kwok Kin-pong 10 minutes into the second half. Kwok was making a fast break down on the left, but before he ran into the penalty box, he was hauled down by Li.
After a barren first half when neither side looked impressive, Dane Milovanovic headed home a Luk Chi-ho free kick from close range in the 52nd minute, before the Caroliners replied with a goal through Chan Wai-ho just two minutes later.
South China were in total command of the game after gaining the numerical advantage, but could not find a way past a resolute Sun Hei defence that was marshalled by Cordeiro and Jean Kilama. Da Silva came close to scoring in extra time when he fired a Kwok cross over the bar from a mere three metres out.
Goalkeeper Hou, who was named man of the match, is keen to stay with Sun Hei next season as the victory means the club will represent Hong Kong in the regional AFC Cup. 'I really enjoy playing for Sun Hei and would love to be here next season, especially as I am keen to play in the AFC Cup,' he said.
Sun Hei president Chow Man-leung said the club would pay a bonus of more than HK$500,000 to the squad for the victory and would also expand the team when they play in the AFC Cup next year. 'We have a good track record in the AFC Cup, reaching the semi-finals a couple of years ago and are keen to repeat that result,' he said.
major trophies won by Sun Hei since their founding in 1986