Feeling Green for the Champions

Tai Po Champions - Picture 'South China Morning Post' 
On Saturday the 4th May Tai Po of Hong Kong made history, this was due to them becoming the first district team to be champions of Hong Kong. The fairytale ending came for the club founded in 2002 when they lifted the Hong Kong Premier League title last weekend.


Tai Po from lower leagues to Champions

Tai Po is the first district team in Hong Kong to ever win the Premier League. In total Hong Kong has 18 distracts but most teams in the league are not recognised as being from a certain region.

Tai Po was, in fact, one of the district teams that the Hong Kong Football Association introduced under the district football scheme with the help of the government in 2002. The club then started in the third tier of the national league.

Despite Tai Po lowly beginnings last season they were runners up in the League and Hong Kong FA Cup runners-up with this resulting in them competing this season in the league and AFC Cup. With their AFC Cup campaign still very much on track with six points out of nine.
Then in their third season in the Premier League after 16 out of 18 matches they travelled across the border to Guangzhou knowing a win would get them the title. So with 900 fans in the Yangzigang Stadium, many of them with their umbrellas up they watched on in the rain as history was made.

The club knew that a win would be enough for the title but with 15 minutes left on the clock the 100 fans who had travelled from Hong Kong where worried. This was down to the fact that R&F led after a 35th-minute goal from Deblé.

You just felt the team in green did just not want to give up as they looked for the two goals to win the match and the championship. They were to find the goals too as two late second-half strikes from Sandro had the players and fans in celebration.

Tai Po in the Champions League 

The win means that Tai Po will have a chance to compete in the Asian Champions League for the first ever time. This will be seen as the club will take part in a play-off match in February against likely a side from South East Asia.

If they win this match they will have a further playoff match with a team likely from the J or K League. Defeat in the first playoff match will see the side get the second prize of a place in the AFC Cup instead.

Talking of the AFC Cup Tai Po also have a match this coming Wednesday against April 25 in  P'yŏngyang, North Korea. A win in this match and due to goal difference a big win over Taiwanese side Hang Yuen will see the Hong Kong side reach the quarter-finals.

Beijing unbeaten 

Meanwhile, in China, another team in green is doing rather well as Beijing Guoan have won their opening eight matches of the season. Then despite losing to Jeonbuk Motors this week in the Champions League, they have a must-win the match in two weeks with Urawa Reds to reach the knockout stages of the competition.

So going into the summer period it looks like the side from Beijing could be leading the CSL and in the final stages of the Champions League. This will most certainly set up a great second half of the season.

While at the moment their win at the weekend meant that they stretched their lead from three points to five. Looking at the fixtures there are two matches to look out for that I suggest you all watch if you can. This is when the side play Urawa Reds in the Champions League and then on the 26th May they face Shanghai SIPG in the league.

If things go to plan when the side meets SIPG in the CSL they could have won ten from ten in the league and be in the last 16 of the Champions League. Exciting times ahead for both sides in green that is for sure. 
CSL League table after 8 matches

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