Dreams sealed an excellent 4-2 victory over Southern in the last round. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA.COM)
Another exciting week of football in the Hong Kong Premier League approaches after the Hong Kong representative team kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup with a 2-0 victory over Malaysia during the international break. Goals from Jordi Tarres and Jaimes McKee either side of half time, still mean that although Hong Kong currently occupy the second of two available qualifying spots, they must realistically claim victory in their final two matches against tough opposition – namely Lebanon and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) – in order to qualify. With the first of these fixtures not taking place until mid-November, the Premier League resumes once again with strong-starters Pegasus currently leading the pack.
SOUTHERN v YUEN LONG, Premier League, Aberdeen Sports Ground, Oct 14, 2:30 pm
Tipped to be seriously challenging for silverware this season, Southern have yet to set the league alight and could already be out of the title race after falling to a surprise 2-4 defeat to Dreams in the last round. The Aberdeeners endured a torrid first half in which they conceded three goals, and despite Michael Luk and Marcos de la Espada finding the net for them, they ultimately were unable to take anything from the game.
Ricky Cheng will be hoping that the international break has allowed his squad to regroup as they go up against an inconsistent Yuen Long side that have not been able to string a decent run of form together thus far. However, they managed to claim a narrow 1-0 win away to Rangers in their last outing, with Aleksandar Randelovic netting a screamer for the Tangerines on the stroke of half time. This could well be a tight affair in a match that is difficult to call.
Tai Po had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Lee Man last round. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA.COM)
KITCHEE v TAI PO, Premier League, Mong Kok Stadium, Oct 14, 5:30 pm
With Kitchee not having played since mid-September, where they narrowly escaped defeat with a late goal from Fernando salvaging a 1-1 draw with Pegasus, the Bluewaves should be refreshed and raring to go as they continue to aim for a ninth league title this season. Whilst they are yet to be playing the kind of flowing football from last season that saw them become far and away the dominant team in the division, their squad remains one of the strongest and most talented in the region.
They will need to utilise all of that talent when they face Tai Po this weekend, with the Greens themselves missing out on the chance to go joint top of the table after a 2-2 draw away to Lee Man last weekend. It’s clear that Lee Chi-kin’s side have a fearsome line-up of their own, although niggling injuries to players such as Igor Sartori and Sean Tse have disrupted their tempo somewhat. The champions should have enough in their locker to get the job done here, but it will never be safe to bet against Tai Po this season.
RANGERS v R&F, Premier League, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, Oct 15, 2:30 pm
It is said that you can never win anything with kids in football, and Rangers are proving this adage to be true as they continue to struggle despite some promising spells of play. Their loss to Yuen Long last week means that they remain rooted to the foot of the table having lost all three of their fixtures played, and their predicted last place finish this year seems difficult to go against if they continue to fail to pick up points in games where they play well yet come away with nothing.
That said, R&F have not exactly lived up to their billing of dark horses for a top four finish, with their last match being a 1-2 loss to Lee Man in the Senior Shield. Head coach Marek Zajac has suggested that the Guangzhou-based outfit are not yet used to playing football in Hong Kong, but after having a budget of around HK$ 20 million at their disposal, they will know that they need to be doing much better.
Pegasus claimed a 1-0 victory over Eastern in Round 4 with Travis Major (left) netting the winner. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HKFA.COM)
EASTERN v DREAMS, Premier League, Mong Kok Stadium, Oct 15, 5:30 pm
It is hard to describe Eastern’s start to the season as anything other than a nightmare, and their loss to Pegasus in the last round has condemned to their worst start to a season since promoting to the top flight, having lost all four league games played. It’s clear that they are struggling massively in the defensive department, and have already shipped eight goals – a staggering amount for a team of their stature.
Head coach Szeto Man-chun’s position could be under even more scrutiny if their opponents Dreams can reproduce their wonderful display against Southern, particularly in the first half. Young local striker Lam Hing-ting netted twice for the Dreamers, and looks a real prospect for the future after causing all sorts of problems for the Southern defence. Eastern should be wild favourites for this, but their woeful defensive record means that the away side are very much in the running.
LEE MAN v PEGASUS, Premier League, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Oct 15, 8:00 pm
Lee Man look to be enjoying life in their debut season in the Premier League, and their physical approach frustrated Tai Po in their 2-2 draw last Saturday, largely preventing their opponents from stamping their authority on the match. Jose Victor Dos Santos and Wong Chung-hin both netted for the Bees, and a draw was in truth the least they deserved.
Pegasus are a much changed side this year, however, and Yeung Ching-kwong has managed to lift the spirits of the team to the point that they look like potential candidates for at least a top three finish. Their scoring rate may not be breaking any records, but a mean defensive record of conceding just three goals in four games will certainly have the Lee Man strikers worrying about a long afternoon on the field.