Wei wants to go on a winning note
ONE of Happy Valley's unsung heroes on the road to the Esso FA Cup final, mainlander Wei Kexing, hopes to sign off in style against Eastern at the Hong Kong Stadium this afternoon.
Wei, who has had an outstanding season in the Valley engine room, may be making his farewell appearance in Hong Kong before returning to Beijing.
The 30-year-old midfielder said: ''I'm determined to make the most of the final because I'm not sure if I'll be back next season.'' Wei has formed a powerful midfield partnership with Alan Reis, the more defensive of the two, and with veteran playmaker Leung Nang-yan.
And with 20-year-old Simon Collins, their ''Man of the Match'' in last Sunday's semi-final penalty shootout victory over Kitchee, likely to start wide on the left, the Happy Valley midfield has a good balance of youth and experience.
Wei, who spent two years with the Japanese semi-professional team Fujitsu, said Valley's spirit was higher than Eastern's as their opponents were beset with transfer talk, although he acknowledged Eastern were the stronger team.
''There will be more pressure on Eastern than there will be on us because they are the FA Cup holders,'' added Wei.
Several Eastern players, notably midfield schemer Tam Siu-wai, have been linked with summer moves - but team manager Peter Leung said the fact that Tam had already announced he would be leaving the club would not affect today's final.
Eastern, who have already won the Senior Shield and First Division League Championship this season, are considering whether right-winger Lee Kin-wo or Tam will partner Dale Tempest up front.
Chan Hung-ping, coach of Eastern, said Tempest held the key to the game in his battle with 21-year-old man-marker So Chi-chung.
So has been brought into the centre of defence to replace mainland stopper Wang Dongning, who returned home to Shandong province after Valley's 3-0 victory over South China in the FA Cup quarter-final two weeks ago.
''So is definitely not comparable to Wang,'' said Eastern coach Chan Hung-ping.
''So has not got much experience in facing such a powerful and aggressive striker like Tempest,'' said Chan.
Eastern (4-4-2): Iain Hesford; Chan Chi-keung, Chiu Chun-ming, Brian Hayes, Lee Wai-man; Lo Kai-wah, Tim O'Shea, Tam Siu-wai, Ross Greer; Lee Kin-wo, Dale Tempest.
Happy Valley (4-4-2): Tommy Maras; Hau Yiu-tak, Leung Sui-wing, So Chi-chung, Keung Wing-yiu; Leung Nang-yan, Alan Reis, Wei Kexing, Simon Collins; Ricky Cheng, Darren Tilley.