WATCH: South China storm into quarter-finals of AFC Cup
Brazilian striker’s late goal knocks out Philippines side
WATCH: An extra time goal by Brazilian striker Luiz Carlos sent South China into the AFC Cup quarter-finals for the second year in a row as they stunned hosts Ceres of the Philippines 1-0 on Tuesday.
After failing to secure any silverware in the domestic season, the Caroliners desperately needed the round of 16 result to boost the confidence in preparation for next season.
And their hope was materialised by Carlos, who has been struggling to reach his best form after arriving in the beginning of the season.
Despite being pinned at defence through out most of the play, a neat counter move involving three other South China players including Chan Siu-ki, Law Hiu-chung and Mahawal Awal that saw Carlos hit a half volley from the edge of the box to seal the victory with 15 minutes left.
“The spirit of the team was key,” said South China coach Jose Rambo. “Coming into the game we knew it was going to be very difficult because we were facing a disciplined team.
“It was up and down during the game, especially in the second half when Ceres controlled the game, but I felt we had more weapons in attack and we knew we can always create situations where we can score a goal.
“Proof of that was in the fact that a midfielder scored the goal – it was a wonderful goal but all the players deserve the glory.”
South China also had to thank goalkeeper Tsang Man-fai, who’s acrobatic saves repeatedly frustrated Ceres so that they were able to force the one-off match into extra time.
The quarterfinals will not start until September and South China have plenty of time to re-build the squad and their confidence during the summer. They also reached the same stage last year before losing to eventual champions Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia in the two rounds.
Meanwhile, Kitchee are likely to become the second team from Hong Kong to reach the regional cup quarterfinals when they play host to Bengaluru FC of India at Mong Kok Stadium on Wednesday.
Having finished top of their group, Kitchee enjoyed the advantage of playing at home against the Indian side in the round of 16 clash.