Caroliners rattle Guangzhou R&F as earthquake rocks region
Not even an earthquake could stop South China from winning a sensational match over Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F in the opening match of the Chinese New Year Cup in Meizhou yesterday.
Just hours before their unexpected 4-1 win over the mainland side that features former English Premier League player Yakubu Aiyegbeni, a 4.8-magnitude earthquake in the nearby city of Heyuan also shook Meizhou.
"I was resting on my bed waiting for the team bus to take us to the stadium and suddenly my bed was shaking," captain Chan Wai-ho said.
"I knew it was an earthquake as I had the same experience when playing in the East Asian Cup qualifiers in Taiwan a couple of years ago.
"I was not scared, but thought this was very special and maybe it could bring us good luck for the match."
R&F were pre-match favourites having finished seventh in the Super League last season. But playing their first game after the winter training camp prior to the new season, the mainlanders seemed to lack match fitness.
The hosts were two goals down in the first 15 minutes, thanks to a powerful left-footer by Alessandro Celin and Lee Chi-ho's opportunist goal after a goal-mouth melee.
The Caroliners added two more in the second half through Au Yeung Yiu-chung and Sean Tse Ka-keung before Brazilian Rafael Coelho hit a consolation for R&F in the closing stages.
Centre-half Joel Bertoti Padilha, who was assigned the task of neutralising Yakubu, who played for Everton, Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers before joining R&F last season, had another impressive afternoon.
"I am very happy because he did not score," said the Brazilian defender. "He knows how to use the body and the power, and it is very difficult to check him. He is an exceptional player, but I did a good job of stopping him."
South China will now meet another China Super League side Changchun Yatai in tomorrow's final. The latter beat Shenzhen Red Diamonds 2-0 in the four-team tournament.