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Centre back Tamirlan Kozubaev clears the ball with a header. Photo: Eastern FC

AFC Cup: Hong Kong international Wu apologises after blowing chance to send Eastern into inter-zone final

  • Long Lions lost 1-0 to PFC Sogdiana of Uzbekistan, who move on to the inter-zone final
  • Coach Roberto Losada says he is proud of how his players performed

Hong Kong international Wu Chun-ming apologised to fans after they bowed out of the 2022 AFC Cup following a 1-0 defeat by PFC Sogdiana in Uzbekistan on Tuesday night.

A late header by Shakhruz Norkhonov sank the visitors with five minutes remaining, and sent the home side into the inter-zone final, where they will face either ATK Mohun Bagan or Kuala Lumpur City.

Wu had the opportunity to put his side ahead just before half-time, but his shot from inside the box was easily saved by Sogdiana goalkeeper Milan Mitrovic.

Late Shakhruz Norkhonov header downs Eastern Long Lions in AFC Cup

“I did not realise the goalkeeper had lost already his position before I attempted to score, and I was a bit rushed making the shot which I should have done better with,” the midfielder said.

“We spent a lot of effort defending, which meant we did not have too many chances like this, but I squandered it and felt a bit disappointed.

“Sogdiana are strong but not a team that we cannot handle. They moved quickly with high mobility, but we were able to cope with them well and did not allow their key players to perform. The goal was a bit unlucky for us I would say.”

Head coach Roberto Losada in the post match press conference. Photo: Eastern FC

But Wu said they had taken something out from such a high-tempo game and appealed to the club’s fans who watched them on television to continue to support them in the Hong Kong Premier League.

Coach Roberto Losada also paid tribute to his players despite the defeat, saying they had given everything.

“There is no complaint from me and I am very happy [with their performance],” the Spaniard said. “I am very proud of the boys who have had some amazing performance. The left winger Wong Tsz-ho, the goalkeeper and the two centre backs that have to play against strikers that are very good. I am all proud of them.”

Losada said his side had planned to hold Sogdiana at bay for as long as possible, relying on counter-attacks to create any opportunities in front of goal.

Goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai and full back Alex Jojo console each other at the end of the match. Photo: Eastern FC

“The match was as what we had expected – a tough game for us against a strong good team as Sogdiana are physically very well and combat,” Losada said.

“We tried to hold them as long as we could and see if we can score a goal through counter-attack to change the result.

“We kept the same tactics throughout the game as I don’t have too many players on the bench, only some young players of 15 or 16 years old and it was not their game.”

“But in the end a fantastic goal through a good cross from the right with a left foot – a nice match goal and is well deserved.”

Full back Leung Kwun-chung in the match. Photo: Eastern FC

Losada said the Hong Kong government’s continued strict approach to the coronavirus had impacted his side.

“We went to the group stage [of the AFC Cup] from the pandemic in Hong Kong with no games, no league,” he said. “We had to train in parks in two or three players a group without any competition.

“We were not the favourites and probably the worst one in the group stage in Thailand against Lee Man and Tainan City, but we won both matches. My boys did a fantastic job before coming here, where we were almost on par against a good team before losing a late goal.

“It was a good experience for the players and I hoped they can learn from here and do better and better when they return to Hong Kong.”