Late Kitchee goal floors proud Kaya
UNITED Football League side Kaya conceded a late goal to teenager Harima Hirokane and suffered a 0-1 defeat to Hong Kong powerhouse Kitchee yesterday in their AFC Cup Group F clash at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The 18-year-old Hirokane struck four minutes from time, bundling it home from close range after Lam Ka-wai’s corner kick rattled the post, as the visitors repeated over the Filipino side to seize top spot in the group.
Lacking the cutting edge to break down a disciplined Kitchee side, Kaya lost for the first time in four matches in the second-tier Asian competition.
Kaya remained in the hunt for a place in the Round of 16, although nailing top spot and a home field advantage in the next round is already out of its hand.
A win against New Radiant of Maldives in Male on May 10 will seal Kaya’s berth in the knockout phase, but a loss or a draw by Kitchee against Balestier Khalsa on the same day will give the Filipino side the top seeding.
“We have nothing to worry about,” said Kaya coach Joel Villarino. “We have nine points and we can still make the next round, which is our target. We were up against a very experienced team today and we got a bit unlucky with the goal (they scored).”
After a dull first 45 minutes, the match came to life in a 10-minute spell in the second half, where Kaya manufactured three quality chances that were all stopped by Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng.
Coming on for captain Lo Kwan-yee in the 83rd minute, Hirokane’s impact was felt three minutes later when he tapped in from close-range to seal the victory for the visitors.
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