League leaders hungry to break clear

TITLE-CHASING South China will be looking to go five points clear at the top of the second phase of the Hong Kong First Division when they take on Sing Tao at Siu Sai Wan Stadium today.

The territory's best-supported club recently boosted their hopes of winning the second phase of the championship by defeating champions Instant-Dict 1-0 - their fourth win over their arch-rivals this season.

The win increased the likelihood of a league grand final between the two clubs in June, with South China expected to win the second phase after Instant-Dict won the first phase.

South China will lead nearest rivals Instant-Dict by five points from the same number of games - eight - if they defeat Sing Tao for the fifth time this season.

Having beaten the recent Viceroy Cup champions in all four previous encounters this season, South China coach Wong Man-wai hopes his charges will not go into the match thinking the points are already in the bag.

'We have a good record against Sing Tao, but we must not fall into complacency. Sing Tao have not been playing well since winning the Viceroy Cup so they will be looking to return to form,' said Wong. 'We know it will be tough for us. We must work hard to earn the points.' South China are expected to field a full-strength team with central defender Aurelio da Silva the only injury worry as the Brazilian has not fully recovered from a knee injury.

South China first beat Sing Tao 2-0 in the league last October. They then recorded a 2-0 win in the Senior Challenge Shield, followed by 3-2 and 1-0 wins in the league last December and January respectively.

Sing Tao's hopes of winning the second phase were derailed when they lost 1-0 to Golden on Thursday.

Right winger Lo Kai-wah will miss the match as he nurses an ankle injury sustained during the Tigers' win over Happy Valley in the Viceroy Cup final.