South China out to spoil the party against champions-elect Kitchee
Caroliners determined to mar celebrations at Mong Kok Stadium
South China plan to spoil the party when they tackle arch-rivals and league champions-elect Kitchee in the RedMR First Division at Mong Kok Stadium on Thursday night.
Kitchee grabbed the league title from the Caroliners after beating Sunray Cave Sun Hei 2-0 at Tsing Yi Sports Ground two weeks ago, but intend to celebrate properly after the match in front of their home fans.
"We cannot stop them from winning the championship but a victory over Kitchee before their celebrations would not be a bad thing," said South China coach Yeung Ching-kwong. "Also, we can halt their unbeaten record in the league and we also need a morale booster before we play Kelantan of Malaysia in our last AFC Cup group match next week."
Yeung said they were still waiting for updates from the Asian governing body after the leaders of their group, Vissai Ninh Binh of Vietnam, were reported to have been involved in a match fixing scandal. If the Vietnamese side were to be expelled from the regional competition, South China could qualify for the next round provided they beat Kelantan at home.
Kitchee and South China played out goalless draws when they met in the first round of the domestic league and in the FA Cup quarter-finals last week. Kitchee prevailed 3-1 in a shootout in that FA Cup match.
"The results show the two teams are very close and had we taken the chances that came our way in the FA Cup, we would have won the tie," said Yeung. "But we have put the cup tie behind us now and [today] will be a new game. It will be interesting to see."
South China, however, have a long casualty list for Thursday's match as forward Sasa Kajkut will be out due to a foot injury sustained in the FA Cup match, while midfielder Leung Kin-pong is still nursing a leg injury, as is centre-half Sean Tse Ka-keung. South Korean Ko Kyung-joon may take up the central defending role alongside Lee Chi-ho as captain Chan Wai-ho is to be rested ahead of the team's AFC Cup tie.
Champions Kitchee, meanwhile, will be missing the reliable Fernando Recio in central defence due to an elbow injury and he will be replaced by Tsang Chi-hau. Having won 16 and drawn two of their last 18 matches, they are confident of a victory over the Caroliners.