Relegated Tai Po slam South China's players
An official from Wofoo Tai Po heavily criticised the attitude of South China players for losing to Sunray Cave Sun Hei on the final day of the league on Saturday, a result that helped ensure Tai Po would be relegated.
"I would not say the match was fixed, but it was the unprofessional attitude of a few players that caused their surprising defeat," said Tai Po club secretary Chan Ping.
"We are not putting the blame on them, but they should know the result of that match played a pivotal role in deciding which team will go down next season.
"As professionals, they should always play 100 per cent to win and not play like that."
He pointed the finger at South China defenders Kwok Kin-pong and Chan Wai-ho, claiming they made little attempt to stop Sun Hei from scoring after a corner kick to level the score at 3-3.
The Caroliners, who had clinched the championship with two rounds left, surprisingly lost 4-3 to Sun Hei, who had to win to avoid the drop. Two South China players, Man Pei-tak and Sean Tse Ka-keung, were sent off.
With Sun Hei collecting three points from the champions, Tai Po, who were held by Yokohama FC to a 2-2 draw, lost their relegation battle and became the only team to get demoted.
South China convener Steven Lo Kit-sing said his players had lost form as the end of the season approached. "The defeat was very embarrassing as we are the champions, but had to end our season in such a way," he said.
Chan, who missed the crucial final round of matches due to a business trip to Vietnam, found the result hard to swallow.
"We won the Senior Shield this season and it's very rare to see a trophy winner go down, right?" he said.
"Fortunately we still have the support from our fans and now our sole target remains winning the AFC Cup qualification for 2014."
Chan said if they qualify from the newly set up 'Super Cup', they would definitely compete in the AFC Cup even if in the Second Division, but said it might push the Hong Kong Football Association to find a way to keep them in the top flight.
Meanwhile, Tai Po coach Cheung Po-chun said he would leave the club after the Super Cup to look for new challenges. In his five years with the side, he steered Tai Po to two cup trophies.