Kitchee make it hat-trick of wins
Kitchee continued their march towards the knockout phase of the AFC Cup yesterday, with a commanding 2-0 win over Vietnamese side Song Lam Nghe An at Tseung Kwan O Stadium.
The Hong Kong champions' third successive victory in group F upheld their position as one of only two teams with a 100 per cent record in the competition.
'We now stand a very strong chance of reaching the round of 16, but we are not yet there,' said coach Josep Gombau. 'Today's victory was crucial but we still need at least three more points. Our two next matches will be away games, which usually present a lot more problems for us than when we play at home.'
Syria's Al Shorta, in group E, are the other club with a perfect record.
Kitchee will leave for Vinh, Song Lam Nghe An's home city, tomorrow in an effort to maximise their prospects of acclimatising ahead of the return fixture on Tuesday.
'Every match in the AFC Cup is difficult. Even though we won today, we were under a lot of pressure before we scored,' said Gombau. 'We have sent scouts to Vinh and we know the weather and the pitch conditions in the Vinh Stadium are difficult. But it is always like that in an AFC Cup away match. We have to cope.'
Playing in front of 1,700 fans, Kitchee were in control of last night's game from the start, and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Zeshan Rehman heading home from a corner.
It was the former Fulham defender's first goal for Kitchee since joining from Muangthong United of Thailand in January.
Song Lam Nghe An had more possession in the second half , with their Cameroon international, Gustave Bebbe, going close several times. Floodlight problems marred about 10 minutes of the match, but the natural light following the 5pm kick-off allowed the contest to continue.
Chu settled matters when he scored in the 73rd minute. Chu, who has vast experience in the AFC Cup from his time with Sun Hei, controlled a pass from Jorge Tarres with his left foot and sent the ball into the net with a right-footed half-volley.
'It was a wonderful goal,' said Chu, the Kitchee captain. 'We have had a good team spirit ... and this helped me to score.'
The midfielder helped Sun Hei reach two AFC Cup quarter-finals and one semi-final before joining Kitchee. The 32-year-old also scored in Malaysia when they defeated Terengganu 2-0 last month.
Song Lam Nghe An coach Ngyuen Huu Thang paid tribute to Kitchee. He said: 'We will try our best at home, but we must accept Kitchee are a strong side.'
The Vietnam Super League champions have collected one point so far from three matches.