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Friday, September 15, 2017, 17:45
HKPL heats up as the league’s top two set to clash
By Jeff Hardbattle
Friday, September 15, 2017, 17:45 By Jeff Hardbattle

Kitchee could go three points clear at the top with a win over Pegasus this weekend. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)

A weekend of torrential downpours threatened to once again affect fixtures in the Hong Kong Premier League last weekend, but all five matches ended up going ahead as planned albeit in tough conditions. There were also the first season outings for four teams, namely Yuen Long, Lee Man, R&F and Rangers in what turned out to be a hugely entertaining two days of football. With Kitchee currently leading the pack after two matches played, it remains to be seen if any other side can realistically challenge them for top honors this season as Round 3 kicks off this Friday.

LEE MAN v EASTERN, Premier League, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Sept 15, 8:00 pm

Lee Man put up some firm resistance in their first outing in the Premier League against Yuen Long last Sunday, and looked like a difficult side to break down despite eventually conceding late in the game. Their rough and ready approach to the game will certainly have teams not looking forward to facing them, with Fung Ka-ki’s side clearly not shy of getting stuck in after committing 17 fouls during the match.
On paper, Eastern should be overwhelming favorites, and the Blues were in a commanding position last week at home to Tai Po after ex-Finnish international Aleksandr Kokko had put them ahead. After defender Lee Chi-ho received a straight red card in the second half, however, they collapsed and allowed Tai Po to dominate the game, conceding three goals to succumb to a shock defeat. Sitting in last place after two games played, Szeto Man-chun will need to find a way to motivate his players before it is too late.

R&F fought valiantly despite suffering a 2-3 loss to Pegasus. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)

SOUTHERN v R&F, Premier League, Aberdeen Sports Ground, Sept 16, 2:30 pm

Southern managed to put a disappointing start to their campaign behind them after running out as eventual 2-1 winners against Rangers last Saturday, although they were made to work for it amidst dreadful weather conditions. Hui Wang-fung and Wellingsson de Souza were the men on target for the Aberdeeners, and another win here would put their season well and truly back on track.
Although R&F eventually lost out 2-3 to Pegasus last week, they gave a good account of themselves in a game that could have gone either way. Former South China star Marko Perovic scored for the Guangzhou-based team, and judging by the performance it’s clear they aren’t competing in the HKPL just to make up the numbers.

YUEN LONG v DREAMS, Premier League, Yuen Long Stadium, Sept 16, 5:30 pm

Yuen Long have been predicted to have a hard time of things this season after losing their financial backing from bus company KMB, but they kicked off their season with a narrow 1-0 win over Lee Man after Yiu Ho-ming slotted the ball home from Everton Camargo’s cross. The latter looked particularly dangerous throughout the ninety minutes, and he will surely be a key player for the Tangerines in their bid to live up to their fifth place finish last year.
Dreams never really got going against Kitchee, and were put to the sword for their lacklustre start in a 0-7 drubbing that in truth could have been even worse. With plenty of Spanish talent in their ranks, they have the makings of a strong team as demonstrated in their opening day 1-1 draw to Tai Po, but could struggle in this game on the basis of their last performance.

Tai Po pulled off a surprise 3-1 win away to Eastern last Saturday night. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA)

RANGERS v TAI PO, Premier League, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, Sept 17, 2:30 pm

Strongly tipped for relegation, Rangers put on a solid display after going two goals down against Southern, with Chuck Yiu-kwok scoring a fantastic goal on the break for his new team. It did not prove enough to help get something out of the game, but head coach Dejan Antonic can take pride in how his team never stopped fighting.
They will need to be ready for a Tai Po team that will be full of confidence after devastating Eastern in the second half with goals from Yuen Chun-sing, Dudu and Wong Wai. The Greens’ superb display illustrates just how far they have come in the past two years, and are set to stage an assault on the top three. This will undoubtedly be a hotly-contested match, but Tai Po remain favorites to come out on top.

PEGASUS v KITCHEE, Premier League, Hong Kong Stadium, Sept 17, 5:30 pm

The game of the weekend sees current second-placed Pegasus take on frontrunners Kitchee in what promises to be a fiery encounter between the two sides. Yeung Ching-kwong has Pegasus playing some excellent football, illustrated by their 3-2 win over R&F with goals from Mahama Awal and two from Macau international Leong Ka-hang. The Flying Horsemen look certain to improve on their eighth place finish last year after some solid purchases over the summer, and could well be this year’s surprise package.
Kitchee will be in buoyant mood though after putting seven past Dreams FC. The champions had striker Lucas da Silva in fine form with a hugely impressive four goals, with the other three coming from a Sandro penalty, a Jared Lum strike and a Lo Kwan-Yee header. The Bluewaves can give themselves a little bit of breathing space at the top of the league should they be victorious here, and despite the form of their opponents, there seems little that can stop them.

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