Big-spending Citizen face demotion in Hong Kong soccer
Embodying the maxim "money doesn't guarantee success", Citizen face a do-or-die situation on the RedMR First Division's judgment day today.
Despite spending close to HK$10 million this season, they are rock bottom on today's final day. Lose to Kitchee at Mong Kok Stadium, and all their outlay will have got them is a place in next season's Second Division.
"It has been a hugely disappointing season," club boss Pui Kwan-kay said. "We did not expect to be in such a poor position given the quality of the squad, but it is too late to complain now. The management and players know clearly we must beat Kitchee to survive."
Pui pointed to the injury to Brazilian forward Paulo Carreiro, who has been out since late January, and their defeat in the Senior Shield final, as the main reasons behind their slip-up.
"Carreiro is a quality striker," Pui said. "His absence has had a great impact on our firepower. Also, the defeat to Tai Po in the final demoralised the team as we were leading 2-0. After that, we lost four league matches in a row.
"We've been in the top flight for nine seasons with some very successful moments; if we go down, we have to go gracefully."
Outgoing Kitchee coach Josep Gombau warned his players will be giving their all, even though the result cannot affect their league position.
"I don't want to see Citizen go down, but as a professional team, we have to play our best in every match to win," he said.
Only one team will go down as the top flight transitions to the new Premier League set up in autumn 2014. Any of the bottom five can finish last.
Sunray Cave Sun Hei are on the same points (17) as Citizen, but ahead on head-to-head record. They play South China at Hong Kong Stadium. Wofoo Tai Po and Sun Pegasus (both 18), face Yokohama FC (19) and BC Rangers (safe on 20) respectively. All four matches will kick off at 3.30pm.