Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A Lot to Play For

It looks like it might go down to the wire!

Rivalry is a great thing in sport. Think Liverpool v Manchester United, Barcelona v Real Madrid, Borg v McEnroe, Prost v Senna, Coe v Ovett, Ali v Foreman, Fischer v Spassky etc etc, the list is endless. The point is, rivalry makes sport much more thrilling and exciting. No-one wants to see one team totally dominant like Celtic; currently 27 points clear at the top of the current Scottish Premiership.

The emerging sporting rivalry between Eastern and Kitchee is becoming more acute and therefore more intriguing and compelling. Earlier this season Kitchee gained some bragging rights by beating Eastern in the final of the HK Senior Shield. A lively crowd of over 6,200 reflected the intensity and increasing significance of the match-up.

At the time of writing, things are close at the top of the 2016/17 BOC Life Hong Kong Premier League, very close in fact. Eastern are 6 points ahead but Kitchee has a game in hand and arguably the easier run in. I think it could go down to the wire and by that I mean the very last game of the season on 6th May. They are playing each other in that match and it is a mouth-watering prospect – potentially a winner takes all scenario.

Being crowned Champions and picking up the winners cheque together with getting one over on a close rival is prize enough, but this year there is even more at stake. The winner of the 2016/17 BOC Life HKPL will in all probability gain an automatic entry into the group stage of the 2018 AFC Champions League (subject to our AFC ranking when places are allocated). Ironically, Eastern’s participation in the CL group stage this season makes their domestic title aspirations a little more difficult because the CL games come thick and fast. As we have seen already they are physically and mentally draining encounters. Playing more often at a higher level can only be good for Hong Kong football in the long term but will this make the difference in this season’s title run in? Only time will tell.

I would not like to bet on the outcome of the 2016/17 BOC Life HKPL right now and there are bound to be twists and turns in fortune between now and the end of the season. As far as I am concerned the rivalry between these two top teams can only be good for Hong Kong football. May the best team win!


Mark Sutcliffe CEO, March 2017

___________________________________________


宿敵之爭

季尾自有分曉

體壇一直以來不乏宿敵的存在。正如利物浦與曼聯、巴塞隆拿與皇家馬德里、波格與麥根萊 (網球)、保魯斯與冼拿 (賽車)、科伊與奧韋特 (跑步)、阿里與福爾曼 (拳擊) FischerSpassky (國際象棋)等等。宿敵之間的較量令運動變得更刺激及引人入勝,沒多少人會對壟斷的情況感太大興趣,就好像蘇格蘭超級聯賽暫時於榜首以27分遙遙領先的些路迪一樣。

至於港超聯方面,東方龍獅與傑志之間的宿敵關係越見明顯,令賽事更具吸引力及話題性。超過6,200名球迷入場見證傑志於較早前的高級組銀牌決賽中擊敗宿敵奪冠,更證明球迷對兩隊之間比拼的關注度日漸提升。

目前,兩隊正於中銀人壽香港超級聯賽榜的前列位置中鬥得難分難解,東方龍獅暫時多打一場的情況下以6分的差距領先傑志,結果大有可能於56日的本球季最後一輪賽事才有分曉,屆時兩隊將會碰頭為冠軍寶座而戰。

擊敗宿敵奪冠封王的一方除可獲獎金外,更將以201617年度港超聯冠軍身份自動晉身至2018亞冠盃分組賽 (根據先前決定參賽名額時之香港於亞足聯的排名而定)。諷刺的是,現時正在出戰亞冠盃分組賽的東方龍獅正因為頻密的賽程與強烈的比賽強度,令到要分身兼顧本地聯賽增添不少難度,從對上兩場的亞冠盃賽事更讓我們體會到亞冠盃對體能上及心理上的要求及消耗。於高水平賽事中參賽一方面可令香港足球發展獲益良多,但另一方面會否令本季之港超聯的冠軍爭奪帶來變數?季尾自有分曉。

港超聯由這一刻起直至季尾仍存在不少變數,實在難以估計今季冠軍鹿死誰手。但我相信兩隊宿敵之間的較量對香港足球來說絕對是一件好事。祝願表現最好的一方可成為最後的大贏家。


香港足球總會行政總裁薛基輔

一七年三月

2 comments:

  1. Dear Mark,

    Would HKFA consider asking the two clubs to play their match on 6 May in Hong Kong Stadium instead of Mongkok Stadium? I think if the title does go to the wire it will draw a good crowd.

    Regards,

    Allan

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good point Allan,
    I will discuss this with our Competitions Department. We would need to get the agreement of the clubs too of course.
    Regards
    Mark

    ReplyDelete