Hong Kong's Kitchee reach last 16 of AFC Cup soccer tournament
Kitchee are through to the knockout stage of the AFC Cup after a convincing 4-0 victory over Churchill Brothers in Pune, India, yesterday.
But it was a different story for Hong Kong's other representatives in the competition, Sunray Cave Sun Hei, who ended their group F campaign with a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to New Radiant of the Maldives at Mong Kok Stadium.
With Warriors of Singapore losing to Semen Padang of Indonesia 2-0, Kitchee will now finish second in group E regardless of the result of their final match against Warriors at home next week. Kitchee are on nine points after five matches, while Padang stay clear on top with 13 points. The Indians remain third on four points, one ahead of the Warriors.
It is the second consecutive year that Kitchee have reached the last 16. They finished top of their group last year, but were then beaten 2-0 at home by Arema of Indonesia.
Club president Ken Ng Kin was confident of an improved performance this year. "We feel there is a real chance to go to the quarter-finals this time with the way the tournament is shaping up," said Ng. "Whether we play either Kelantan of Malaysia or Da Nang of Vietnam next, we believe we can win."
Fielding their strongest possible squad, including centre half Zeshan Rehman, who was held up by Indian immigration officials for 24 hours before the match, Kitchee had striker Pablo Gonzalez to thank for two early goals in the first half. Jorge Tarres, with his seventh goal in the tournament, and Cheng Siu-wai added to the tally in the second half.