Shield final aiming 'to make fans forget scandal'
South China, Pegasus play for title in the wake of alleged match-fixing by other teams
Powerhouses South China and Sun Pegasus will meet in the Canbo Senior Shield final today aiming to lift Hong Kong soccer after weeks of scandal.
The local game has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons after alleged match-fixing involving Tuen Mun and Happy Valley. Fans may opt to turn their backs on today's encounter at Hong Kong Stadium.
"There have been many undesirable reports and we hope to bring the fans a good match through this first cup final of the season," said Pegasus coach Chan Chi-hong. "Both sides are ready for the clash and will try to bring out the best of Hong Kong soccer. I am sure the fans will not be disappointed."
Both sides failed to impress in their last match, however. While Pegasus were beaten 1-0 by Citizen in the league, South China were lucky to escape defeat against Eastern, thanks to some acrobatic saves from goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai as the match ended in a goalless draw.
"The defeat came as an alert and the players should have learned from it," said Pegasus' Chan. "We have a full squad for the final with the return of Admir Rascic and Igor Miovic after suspension and are confident of putting up a good fight."
Striker Rascic is the top scorer with 12 goals so far while Miovic is a key player in central defence. Their new signing, former Australia Under-23 international Marko Jesic, is also ready for his Hong Kong debut.
Pegasus' management have promised lucrative bonuses close to HK$1 million for victory because a win will qualify them for the Play-off Cup in the close season, the winner of which gets an AFC Cup berth.
South China, meanwhile, are seeking a victory to boost morale before their debut Asian Champions League qualifying play-off against Tampines Rovers of Singapore early next month.
Team convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing held a rallying talk before the match to lift the team's spirits.
Their new recruits - strikers Sasa Kajkut from Bosnia and Australian Andrew Barisic - should add height and finishing to the forward line. Both are 1.88 metres with impressive scoring records.
Their only worry is Hong Kong international Chan Siu-ki, who injured his ankle against Eastern last week.
Last night, Kitchee cruised to a 4-1 victory over BC Rangers at Mong Kok Stadium.