Kitchee have league trophy almost at their fingertips
Kitchee fans were in good voice last night after the champions moved to within touching distance of defending their BMA First Division crown with a 1-0 victory over Tuen Mun at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground.
'One more victory,' the fans chanted as their heroes walked off the pitch after the hard-earned win.
Kitchee, on 39 points, have a four-point lead over second-placed TSW Pegasus, who have one game in hand. But if Pegasus lose to Wofoo Tai Po tomorrow, Kitchee will be crowned champions, with their final game against Biu Chun Rangers, in two weeks, a mere formality.
Spanish striker Jorge Tarres scored the only goal of the game last night. The second-half substitute, who replaced the ineffectual Roberto Losada, had Lady Luck to thank for the crucial strike. In an attempt to clear a long ball from Kitchee's half, goalkeeper Siu Leong, who was making only his fourth appearance for Tuen Mun, missed the punch, allowing Tarres to score the simple but important goal.
Other than that costly error, Siu had a magnificent game, frustrating a number of Kitchee strikers including Lo Kwan-yee, Chu Siu-kei and Liang Zicheng with his acrobatic saves. He also denied Kitchee winger Lo Chi-kwan an easy goal-mouth chance in stoppage time.
Despite having one hand on the trophy, Kitchee coach Josep Gombau remained cautious. 'We're not relying on Pegasus to lose,' he said. 'It's up to us to prove we are worthy champions. If we beat Rangers in our last match, then we can celebrate the championship with pride. I have told the boys that we must win that match.'
After resting most of their key players in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over South China last week, Kitchee sent out a full-strength squad last night, but they never look impressive and were even pinned in defence for much of the second half after taking the lead.
Gombau defended his players, however, saying it was a difficult match against a team who are fourth from bottom in the standings.
'Tuen Mun have a lot of quality,' he said. 'They beat South China this season and also held Pegasus to a draw. It was a tough match tonight.'
South China, meanwhile, will be playing only for pride when they take on Rangers at Mong Kok Stadium tomorrow. The Caroliners will finish the season without a trophy for the first time since Steven Lo Kit-sing took charge of the club in 2006.