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Hong Kong Premier League

Southern stun league rivals Kitchee 2-1 to make Senior Shield final

Striker James Ha scored a brace on his birthday as Kwoon Chung Southern reached their first cup final following a stunning 2-1 victory over Kitchee in the Senior Shield at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 December, 2015, 9:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 December, 2015, 9:06pm

Striker James Ha scored a brace on his birthday as Kwoon Chung Southern reached their first cup final following a stunning 2-1 victory over Kitchee in the Senior Shield at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday.

A product of Kitchee’s youth academy, Ha drew the first blood on 33 minutes when he slotted home from the right after Kitchee defence failed to clear a corner kick. He was on target again shortly after the break, beating Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng with a powerful low drive from 20 metres out.

Juan Belencoso hit one back in stoppage time for Kitchee, who were off the back of a fine result after they thrashed rivals South China 4-2 in the league during the midweek fixture.

Ha, who spent most of last season on the bench following a serious knee injury, said he hoped it would be a new beginning after helping Southern reach the final.

“This is a crucial win and I hope I can avoid any major injury from now on,” said a delighted Ha as he celebrated his 23-year-old birthday. “Most of all, I want to build on the success and become the number one striker in Hong Kong.

“There are many quality local players and I want to prove to national coach Kim Pan-gon that he doesn’t always have to rely on naturalised players. We home grown players can do a good job as well.”

Ha also paid tribute to his teammates, saying they could not have beaten the pre-match favourites without a good team performance.

“We worked well as a unit on the pitch and this is important as we look forward to our first cup final,” he said.

Losing finalists of last season, Kitchee failed to produce the same magic as when they outclassed South China 4-2 in midweek.

“We were far from our best today,” said a bemused Kitchee captain Lo Kwan-yee. “The teams are much closer this season and if you fail to deliver on the day, you lose.

“We made a lot of defensive errors today and must find out the reasons, or we may face an empty handed season.”

Eastern and South China, meanwhile, will clash in another semi-final at Mong Kok Stadium today. It will be a tough test for Eastern new coach Chan Yuen-ting, who replaced outgoing Yeung Ching-kwong two weeks ago after Yeung joined China League One club Meizhou Wuhua.