Kitchee snatch Cup to get one over Pegasus
Kitchee won the first of their two battles against TSW Pegasus yesterday, beating their fierce rivals 2-1 in the final of the Halewinner League Cup at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday.
Next up for Kitchee - who collected HK$250,000 for their victory - is the First Division championship, where they trail Pegasus by two points with three matches to play.
'We outperformed Pegasus and deserved the victory today,' said club boss Ken Ng Kin, whose side are also involved in the regional AFC Cup, where they stand a good chance of making it to the round of 16. 'Some people may think that there is too much on our plate, but today we proved them wrong.
'We have a good rotation of players and our coach is first class. He's the one who has masterminded our success so far this season.'
In front of a 3,957-strong crowd yesterday, Spaniard Yago Gonzalez put Kitchee ahead in the 35th minute following a beautiful through ball from Liang Zicheng.
Indeed, Kitchee had already come close to scoring earlier but centre-half Zeshan Rehman and playmaker Lam Ka-wai both saw their attempts saved by the reliable Pegasus goalkeeper, Hisanori Takada.
Lo Kwan-yee added to the tally in the second half, and again it was Liang's cross that did the initial damage. Leandro Silva scored a late consolation for Pegasus from the penalty spot after Kitchee defender Liu Quankun had brought down Ng Wai-chiu.
Lam believes Kitchee's involvement in the AFC Cup has had a positive bearing on their domestic campaign. 'The AFC Cup is of a high standard and we do learn a lot from playing against our Asian counterparts,' he said. 'The players' fitness level dropped in the final stages as we only came back from Vietnam a few days before this final, but we managed to hang in there through sheer willpower and won our first title of the season.'
Kitchee had travelled to Vinh last week for an AFC Cup match against Song Lam Nghe An on Tuesday. They lost 1-0, but it was their first defeat in four group matches, having won the previous three.
Meanwhile, Pegasus coach Chan Hiu-ming was disappointed that his players had allowed Kitchee to dominate the midfield. 'We trained specifically to control the midfield, but the boys failed to deliver on the day,' he said. 'My big fear is that losing a final like this will affect the players' confidence. We still have to take on South China this week in the First Division. If we slip up, Kitchee might steal that title from us also.'