Wofoo Tai Po vow return to top flight after play-off defeat against Tuen Mun
Wofoo Tai Po have vowed to return to the senior flight stronger than ever after losing their final match of the season.
Already relegated to the Second Division by finishing bottom of the RedMR First Division, Tai Po lost 2-1 to Tuen Mun in the end-of-season play-offs.
The winner of the four-team play-offs earn the right to represent Hong Kong in the 2014 AFC Cup, along with league champions South China.
Tai Po won promotion to the First Division in 2006.
"We will fight for promotion in the coming season," said club secretary Chan Ping. "The Second Division is amateur, but we will keep some professional players to boost our hopes. We want to get back to the elite ranks as soon as possible."
He said he was proud that his team clinched the FA Cup in 2009 and this season's Senior Shield.
"As the first district team to play in the First Division, we have won two cup trophies and produced several quality players who are now playing at international level. We have also set a good example for other district teams to follow our promotion path and formed a strong fan base at district level," Chan said.
Tai Po finished at the bottom of the table after drawing 2-2 with Yokohama in their last match of the regular season. But as Shield champions, they were eligible for the newly set up play-offs to contest a place to represent Hong Kong in the 2014 AFC Cup.
Chan said if they had won the right to represent the city in the regional competition, they might have asked for a special dispensation to stay in the top flight. But their hopes ended after Tuen Mun striker Daniel Quevedo scored a brace, including the decider with a minute remaining. Aender Mesquita had put Tai Po ahead from the penalty spot in the first half.
Tai Po forward Christian Annan, who joined the club when they were promoted to the senior flight, said it was a disappointing way to finish the season.
"We had many good moments, but I have to move on," said the Ghanaian, 35. "I want to play at the highest level and have received many offers, including clubs in the China First Division."
High-flying Kitchee will meet Southern in the play-off at Mong Kok today. After clinching the FA Cup and reaching the AFC Cup quarter-finals, Kitchee are likely to see off the challenge of Southern, who will have to make do without Jonathan Carril and Landon Ling, both on loan from Kitchee, and first-choice goalkeeper Chiu Yu-ming, sidelined due to a dislocated shoulder.