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Hong Kong soccer champions score from the spot kick for the only goal of the game in their opening group encounter
Kitchee’s Christian Annan tries to dribble past Kaya FC goalkeeper Matthew Acton during Tuesday’s game. Photos: K. Y. Cheng
Hong Kong champions Kitchee needed a dubious penalty to scrap past minnows Kaya FC of the Philippines 1-0 in their opening AFC Cup group soccer match at Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday night.
Kitchee broke the deadlock after the interval when Lam Ka-wai was pushed inside the penalty box to earn a spot kick.
Spanish striker Rufino Sgovia, who joined the club last month during the winter transfer window, made no mistake to slot the goal but Kitchee coach Abraham Garcia was left unimpressed by his side’s effort.
We had many chances in the first half but we could not score
“We had many chances in the first half but we could not score,” said the coach. “We dominated the second half but didn’t create many chances. We played a new tournament in the midweek and it’s not easy.”
Masanari Omura of Kaya FC (left) tussles with Kitchee’s Rufino Sgovia during Kitchee’s 1-0 win at Mong Kok Stadium.
Captain Lo Kwan-yee put a brave face on Kitchee’s performance. “The opponents were very fast in the opening stages and gave us a lot of pressure,” said the right back.
“But we kept trying and the depth of the squad gave us advantages with players coming off the bench and doing a good job.”
Kaya coach Joel Villarino was not happy with the referee. “Both teams played well, but Kitchee got the penalty. It was a ‘home decision’ by the referee,” said the coach.
Kitchee lead group F despite the narrow win as the two other teams in the group – Balestier Khalsa of Singapore and New Radiant of Maldives – played out a 2-2 draw.
Meanwhile, South China have put up a HK$1.5 million bonus as an incentive for the team to lift the AFC Cup.
The Caroliners take on Yangon United of Myanmar in group G on Wednesday.
Captain Chan Wai-ho did not follow the team to Myanmar after a foot injury sustained in their league match against Yuen Long over the weekend. His defending position will be taken by Cheung Chi-yung, who will play alongside Bojan Malisic in central defence.