Vietnamese end Kitchee's sweet run
Kitchee's two-month unbeaten record came to a shuddering halt after losing 1-0 away to Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam in the AFC Cup at Vinh Stadium yesterday.
Since their 2-1 defeat by TSW Pegasus in the domestic league in mid-February, the Hong Kong champions have been riding the crest of a wave with an eight-win, one-draw record in all competitions, including perfect results in their first three AFC Cup group F matches.
Club boss Ken Ng Kin, however, was philosophical, saying the unbeaten record had to come to an end eventually.
'The Vietnamese are the second best team in the group from my point of view and it came as no surprise they beat us, especially with their home-ground advantage,' said Ng.
'The pitch conditions were bad, making our favoured passing game more difficult. Our striker, Jorge Tarres, hit the crossbar in the first half, otherwise it could have been a different game.
'Nonetheless, the result is not too bad considering the second place team in the group, Terengganu of Malaysia, also lost today. There is little change in positions and we are still leading the group with nine points and are in pole position to qualify for the round of 16.'
The Malaysian Super League runners-up of last season are still on six points after losing 2-0 to home side Tampines Rovers of Singapore, and with two matches left for each team, Kitchee still stand a great chance of finishing top of the group, which will give them home ground advantage for the round of 16. Meanwhile, Citizen are desperate to get a result against Chonburi of Thailand at Mong Kok Stadium tonight to keep their hopes alive. The Thais arrive off the back of a 2-0 win over the Hong Kong Senior Shield champions in group G last week and Citizen executive director Pui Ho-wang said they had to add more attacking elements to their play if they wanted to reverse that result.
'We learned a lot from the last match as the Thais are very strong,' he said. 'But with the support of the fans and home-ground advantage, we hope to do better this time.'
Midfielder Festus Baise, who celebrates his 32nd birthday today, hopes the occasion can bring his team good luck.
'We still have a chance and will fight for the victory,' said the Nigerian, who scored the winning goal against Yangon United of Myanmar when they won 2-1 last month.
Chonburi lead the group with seven points, while Home United of Singapore and Citizen are tied in second.
Kitchee were unbeaten in nine games in all competitions before last night's loss