Defending champions South China hungry to get upper hand over Kitchee today

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 3:29am

Defending champions South China are "hungry" to put their campaign back on track after an early season loss and head coach Cheung Po-chun believes getting one up over arch-rivals Kitchee today at Hong Kong Stadium would be the perfect way.

In the RedMR First Division League clash, both sides know the importance of grabbing the psychological high ground early. And the stakes are high, especially for the Caroliners after their 5-3 loss at the hands of Sun Pegasus in their last match.

"I believe our confidence has not wavered after the defeat. Instead, we are hungrier than ever to put things right and what better way than to do so with a win over Kitchee," Cheung said.

South China have a loss and a win from their opening two games, but their biggest worry is that their defence has leaked seven goals. This has mainly been due to the absence of the injured Chan Wai-ho, but with his return imminent, things are looking up.

Kitchee have started with wins over Eastern Salon (3-0) and Sunray Cave Sun Hei (6-2), placing them top of the standings.

"Kitchee versus South China is always a big game in Hong Kong, but we always want to win no matter who we play," centre-back Zesh Rehman said. "It will not be easy, but it never is. You play football because you want to be involved in the big games and this should be interesting."

Kitchee's build-up has been less than ideal with their AFC Cup campaign complicating matters. A 2-1 loss to Jordan's champion club Al Faisaly in the first leg of the quarter-finals on Tuesday at Mong Kok Stadium was a huge blow to their morale and new coach Alex Gomez will have to find a way to lift his side for today's encounter.

With their mind on salvaging their AFC Cup hopes, it will not be easy for Kitchee who will rush to the airport tonight for a 10-hour flight to Amman for the return leg on Tuesday.