Citizen get cup boost before AFC campaign
Citizen received a timely boost ahead of their AFC Cup campaign when they beat newly crowned Senior Shield champions Sunray Cave Sun Hei 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the Halewinner League Cup at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday.
Captain Festus Baise scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 65th minute to set up a semi-final clash against league leaders TSW Pegasus.
Citizen, the winners of last year's Senior Shield - a feat that earned them a berth in the AFC Cup for the first time - will kick off their regional campaign in 10 days when they travel to Singapore to take on Home United.
'Our starting line-up against Home United will be the same as today,' Citizen executive director Calvin Pui Ho-wang said. 'We're pleased with today's result, even though we did not have much possession. Our defence did a really good job.'
In the AFC Cup, each team is allowed to field three foreign players and an additional expatriate as long he is from Asia. But with top scorer Paulo Carreiro still recovering from a groin injury, Citizen fielded only two foreign players and one Asian expatriate yesterday.
'We do not want to risk Carreiro at this stage because he is not fully fit,' Pui said. 'He is also unlikely to play against Home United, but since there are six matches in the group stage, he will certainly have a role to play as the tournament progresses.'
Citizen and Home United are in group G along with Yangon United of Myanmar and Chonburi of Thailand. The Thais are favourites, having reached the second-tier regional competition after losing in the Asian Champions League qualifiers to Pohang Steelers of South Korea.
Sun Hei were determined to continue their winning form after overcoming powerhouses South China in the Senior Shield final, but could not find a way past a solid Citizen defence.
Their best chance came early in the second half when Pun Jia hit the post. But they soon found themselves one goal down after the referee awarded Citizen a penalty when Edson Minga brought down Baise. The Citizen captain made no mistake with his spot kick.
Meanwhile, Kitchee beat Tuen Mun 2-1 and will face South China in the other League Cup semi-final.
Although Spanish striker Roberto Losada scored in each half, including a deflection off Leung Kwok-wai in the 39th minute, Kitchee never looked impressive and were always short of attacking ideas. They were thrown into a panic after Mirko Teodorovic pulled one back for Tuen Mun in the 77th minute but held on.