Hong Kong champions Kitchee reignite bitter war of words with dig at continental flop Eastern
Kitchee owner promises “a better result for Hong Kong” in AFC Champions League after his club snatch the domestic title at Mong Kok Stadium
Kitchee have reignited their war of words with Eastern dating back to a bitter fallout sparked by their controversial absence from this season’s AFC Champions League.
Defending champions Eastern needed merely to avoid defeat to retain their title in a winner-takes-all clash at Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday, but lost 4-1 as Kitchee snatched the Hong Kong Premier League title.
“We will approach the Champions League with a new attitude to go for a better result for Hong Kong,” Kitchee owner Ken Ng Kin said.
Kitchee started in the play-offs for the regional top-tier competition this season after Eastern were reinstated as the first-ever representative for Hong Kong in a last-minute change.
But Eastern have endured a humiliating campaign after drawing one match and losing four so far in the group stages with 20 goals conceded and just one scored
Chan Yuen-ting’s side head to Japan to take on Kawasaki Frontale on Tuesday playing for nothing but pride.
“We have gained immense experience of playing in the regional competition through the AFC Cup and know how to tackle on two fronts with sufficient players,” added Ng.
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In front of a record crowd of 6,413, Kitchee striker Sandro grabbed a hat-trick to take his tally to 21 for the season.
The hosts were lucky not to concede early on with Yapp Hung-fai saving a penalty from Sandro just six minutes into the game.
But the Hong Kong international soon made up for it after burying a header and added to his tally just before half-time to give Kitchee a comfortable cushion before Krisztian Vadocz then made it 3-0 just two minutes into the second half to all but seal the title.
Michel Lugo gave Eastern a glimmer of hope after pulling one back midway through the second half, but as the hosts threw everything into attack, their defence was fully exposed and they were punished by Sandro again 13 minutes from time to hand Eastern their first and only defeat of the season.
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“I have been chasing Meat Ball [Eastern coach Chan’s nickname] for most of the season,” said Kitchee coach Chu Chi-kwong. “We played better in this match, pressing them hard from the first minute and they seemed to be too tired after a long season also involving the Champions League.”
Kitchee can complete a domestic treble when they meet South China in the FA Cup final next week, having already captured the Senior Shield with a 2-1 win over Eastern in January’s final.