The Singapore side begin their AFC Cup campaign on a losing note as they are downed by the Hong Kong League championsHong Kong league champion Kitchee (HKG) kicked-off their AFC Cup journey with a 3-1 home victory against Group F opponent, Tampines Rovers (SIN) from Singapore.
Kitchee wasted little time getting on the score sheet. On the 3rd minute, Kitchee’s Chan Man-fai teamed up with Lam Ka-wai on a slick build-up that saw the latter delivering the ball into the Tampines Rovers penalty area. Forward Liang Zi-cheng shook off his marker and fired the ball into the visitors’ net, giving the local champion a quick lead.
The host continued to pour pressure towards the visiting Singaporean side and came close to extending their lead on the 12th minute, when speedy Kitchee striker Jordi broke down on the right flank and swung in a cross that reached teammate Liang Zi-cheng. Unfortunately for Kitchee, Liang’s shot just sailed inches wide from the Rovers’ post.
Tampines Rovers had their first chance of the game on the 16th minute when skipper Davor Piskor fired a shot that was turned away by Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhen-peng. Rovers striker Mohamed Ali was first to the rebound but his header went off-target from the Kitchee goal.
The visitors finally found themselves leveled on the 21st minute when Mustafic Fahrudin delivered in a dangerous cross into the Kitchee box that found the head of striker Mohamed Ali. The Singaporean front-man was completed unmarked and did the simple task of directing the cross into the Kitchee net. The game was tied 1-1.
Kitchee was awarded a penalty on the 31st minute when Rovers keeper Sasa Dreven was judged to have brought down forward Liang Zi-cheng in the Rovers penalty area. Striker Jordi stepped up to take the spot-kick but Kitchee supporters were left disappointed when they witnessed how the striker blasted his shot above the Rovers cross-bar. The game remained tied at 1-1.
The local champion came out pressing for the leading goal in the second half. On the 55th minute, Lo Kwan-yee’s centering pass was met by teammate Jordi in the Tampines Rovers penalty area. Unfortunately for Kitchee, the striker’s header sailed high above the Rovers goal.
Kitchee finally got in front again on the 62nd minute when Lo Kwan-yee showed great determination by stripping the ball away from a Rovers defender before crossing the ball into the Rovers penalty area. The very lively Liang Zi-cheng managed to squeeze past several Rovers defender, got to the ball first and directed it into the visitor’s net, putting Kitchee ahead 2-1.
The host expanded their lead shortly afterwards when Lam Ka-wai released striker Jordi past the Rovers defense on the 65th minute. The Spanish striker coolly slotted the ball past Rovers keeper Sasa Dreven, giving Kitchee a 3-1 lead.
Tampines Rovers came close on the 71st minute when Mohamed Ali found himself behind the Kitchee defense. The Singaporean striker skipped past Kitchee keeper Wang Zhen-peng with the ball but his pass for teammate Davor Piskor was intercepted by a Kitchee defender, denying the visitors a glorious chance.
Kitchee managed to see off the rest of the match in a professional manner, kicking off their AFC Cup campaign with a 3-1 victory over Group F opponent, the visiting Tampines Rovers from Singapore.