Hong Kong's Kitchee exit the Champions League

Kitchee in action
The 2019 season will not see a team from Hong Kong in the Asian Champions League Groups, this was seen with Kitchee going down 6-5 on penalties to Perak of Malaysia. The side that has struggled domestically all season by no means disgraced themselves on the international stage.

Hong Kong side still off the pace

The chance for sides from Hong Kong to play at the top table in club football in Asia has been a recent occurrence. You only have to go back to 2017 to see the first time a team from Hong Kong played in the Champions League Group stages. On this occasion, it was Eastern FC who made the countries debut at this level of club football.

The side did not have the best of time in the competition however and finished bottom of their group with one point. This was seen when the team picked up a 1-1 draw at home to Kawasaki Frontale of Japan in March 2013. They did however set an example and Kitchee followed suit and represented Hong Kong during the 2018 Champions League.

The 2017 champions did have a better time of it but in the end, it was to once again be a rough time for Kitchee in the Champions League. Kitchee did become the first team from Hong Kong to win a Champions League match however when in March 2018 they defeated Kashiwa Reysol of Japan 1-0. The goal in the match came from a Diego Forlan assist and a brilliant curling strike from the Hong Kong national Cheng Chin Lung.

That was to be that however and the side went on to lose their other five matches and finished bottom of their group with three points. Then after these poor results, the Hong Kong champions are now back to entering the competition at the preliminary rounds.

This meant for Kitchee they entered in the second round of qualifiers where they faced up against Malaysian runners-up Perak.

How did Kitchee do this time?

Kitchee, where to play in a very competitive end to end a match with Perak but in the end, they lost out on penalties 6-5. This will mean that the Malaysians will face Uslan of South Korea in the final preliminary round. The side who have had a poor start to the season did not disgrace themselves on the international stage though.

Despite an open and close encounter, in the end, Perak runs out deserved winners. In the opening 45 minutes especially the home team dominated proceedings in front of a crowd of 8,605. This was seen with the team on the front foot from the start with Brendan Gan running the show in the middle.

The deadlock was broken early on 14 minutes with a very scrappy goal, that I am sure Kitchee will be unhappy to have conceded. This was seen when a cross ball from Mohd Nor Hakim Hassan was headed down by Gilmar for Wander Luiz to slot home from almost the goal line.

The game was a little more even in the second half and Kitchee finally got the equaliser to take the match to extra time on 86 minutes. Again this was a messy goal as Li Ngai Hoi somehow found space in the box to chest the ball down and score. This goal silenced the home crowd and Li enjoyed this and put his fingers to his lips to lap it up more.

In the end, extra time brought no extra goals and the game ended with penalties to see who would face Ulsan. The home side then scored six out of seven penalties while Kitchee missed two out of seven with the game ending 6-5 on penalties.

Next up for Kitchee 

This result will mean that Kitchee will enter the AFC Cup starting in March 2019, Tai Po could follow them also with their qualifier for the AFC Group stages taking place on the 13th March. As for Kitchee, they will be in a three-team group with April 25 the army side of North Korea and Hang Yuen the Taiwanese side also known as Fu Jen University.

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