Hong Kong’s young lions left licking their wounds after losing to Guangdong in Interport Cup
Liu Chun-fai’s men squander a two-goal lead as home side rally to score a 4-3 victory in the second leg of the annual competition
Hong Kong’s young lions were taught a valuable lesson as they left Guangzhou on Sunday night licking their wounds after watching a two-goal lead slip away and handing victory to Guangdong in the Interport Cup.
The young players thought they had the trophy in their pockets when they first led 2-0 and then 3-1 but Guangdong had other ideas and eventually won the second leg of the competition 4-3 for a 5-4 aggregate victory after their 1-1 draw in the first leg last Thursday.
Defeat was painful after Guangdong forward Lu Lin, who started from the bench, hit the killer blow in stoppage time to retain the trophy for a third straight year.
“We had one hand on the trophy before losing it to our opponents in the end,” said a disbelieving central half Cheung Chi-yung, who scored the opening goal for Hong Kong that put the visitors into the lead. “The defeat is too hard to swallow.
“We had a good game and I also managed to score. But people will soon forget that and only remember we lost the match 4-3. Lu’s goal came as a huge blow as he did the same thing to us in the same tournament last year, scoring the winner when they beat us 1-0 for the title. As a central defender, it’s just too difficult to accept.”
Coach Liu Chun-fai was also disappointed with the result but paid tribute to his boys’ hard work and attitude.
“Before the match, nobody expected us to take a two-goal lead against Guangdong,” said Liu. “Hong Kong gave it their best against stronger opponents. This was a big test for them, They need to learn to hold their opponents and hang on to win the match. In the end, this will come as a big lesson and hopefully they will not make the same mistake again.”
Liu, however, refused to single out blame to any of his youngsters, saying they would probably earn a regular place in the senior squad.
“This was a team performance and they have proved themselves worthy opponents against higher opposition. But they must continue the good work before they can be mature players and move forward,” said the coach.
In front of a 10.000 strong crowd, Guangdong found it difficult to break down a stubborn Hong Kong defence and were suddenly staring at a two-goal deficit after 34 minutes. Cheung headed home the opening goal before skipper Tam Lok-hin added to the tally with a powerful volley.
Lu then slotted home a penalty to close the gap for Guangdong before half-time but Manoel dos Santos made it 3-1 – also through a penalty shortly after the break.
Guangdong then equalised through goals from Ye Chugui and Tu Dongxu before Lu broke Hong Kong hearts.
“Lu did not train with us because he had a minor injury issue but his skill was there,” said Guangdong coach Chen Yuliang. “He is the player that can change the complexion of a match and he showed it once again.”
Guangdong were awarded a 600,000 yuan (HK$715,000) bonus for winning, good reason for Lu to be called up despite missing the first round through injury.