Kitchee coach throws in towel after Rangers loss

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 2:45am

Kitchee coach Josep Gombau admitted his side had virtually no chance of successfully defending their league title after a disastrous 2-1 defeat by BC Rangers at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground last night.

They remain second in the standings, but are now six points adrift of leaders South China, who become the hot favourites with seven matches left for both teams.

"We are six points behind. There is no chance," said the Spaniard. "It is impossible to catch South China now and we have to now focus on the [newly established] challenge cup if we want to qualify for the AFC Cup next year."

Kitchee's Hong Kong international, Huang Yang, was sent to hospital during the break after clashing with Rangers midfielder Liu Songwei. "He suffered a serious cut near his eye and needed some stitches," said Gombau. "We have to check his condition before making a decision on allowing him to join the Hong Kong team or not."

A 20-member Hong Kong squad will leave on Sunday for their opening match against Uzbekistan in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers to be held in Tashkent on Wednesday.

Rangers, who suffered a 6-1 defeat by South China last week, made a tremendous improvement, holding Kitchee to a barren first half. A goal from Chu Siu-kei put Kitchee ahead early in the second period, but Rangers replied with strikes from Giovane da Silva and Miroslav Saric.

Gombau said a long injury list - they were missing seven regular players - was partly to blame for their defeat. "Today we had too many people off injured," he said.