Kitchee look lost without their foreign stars in AFC Cup
Hong Kong champions held to goalless draw at home by group cellar-dwellers New Radiant of the Maldives
Kitchee struggled to overcome the absence of injured foreign players Jorge Tarres and Fernando Recio in a tepid performance at home to be held 0-0 by visiting group cellar-dwellers New Radiant of the Maldives in an AFC Cup soccer match on Tuesday night.
Despite dominating possession in front of a crowd of 1,600 at Mong Kok Stadium, the Hong Kong champions were frustrated by the visitors.
“Tarres has been a regular choice in the regional competition over the last couple of seasons and his absence had a big impact on our scoring power,” said caretaker coach Chu Chi-kwong.
“The players lacked confidence after losing their previous match. It cost us dearly.”
Kaya of the Philippines went top of group F with six points after beating Balestier Khasla of Singapore 1-0 in another match. Balestier have four points, along with Kitchee, but are ahead on goal difference while New Radiant have two points.
Chu said they face a difficult time in the group after failing to take three points at home against the bottom side.
“We have to play the next two games away before returning home for the final match. Our target is to finish top of the group so that we can have home advantage in the round of 16 but now we have to work hard for this,” he said.
Second-half substitute Cheng Chin-lung came close to scoring for Kitchee. A neat exchange with Rufino Sgovia saw the unmarked 18 year-old fire from the left box, but his shot, which beat goalkeeper Abu Sulemana, bounced off the crossbar.
Huang Yang also had a great chance but his header, following a corner kick, was just parried away by Sulemana.
New Radiant coach Ivanov Stoykov praised his defence. “We played very well, especially our defence, and we are still in contention for qualification,” he said.