A Sunday of mixed results lifted Khalsa to the top of the summit as they opened up a comprehensive five-point lead in the Hong Kong Hockey Association Men’s Premier League standings on Jan 6.
Helping them along the way was their 12-1 victory over Valley at Happy Valley, but making the day all that much sweeter for Khalsa was the news they learned a few minutes after the final whistle. Chasing rivals Hong Kong Football Club-A crashed to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Kowloon Cricket Club-A over at King’s Park with the games played concurrently.
“The day could not get any better for us,” said Khalsa player/coach Harry Bal upon hearing of HKFC’s defeat. “Happy New Year!” he shouted.
“What a great way to start the year,” said Bal, who netted a brace and two assists against Valley.
But the day was nearly naught when Valley, the home side, had agreed to play Khalsa despite the sprinkler system at Happy Valley failing as scheduled to turn on and water the artificial pitch. Valley, as home side had the option of either postponing the game or playing a friendly instead.
Mark Kake, the Valley coach, confirmed after their defeat that they had made the decision to take on Khalsa as he had players who lived far away and it would have been unfair for them, had they not played.
Further, as they had four youth players, it was a good run out for them against one of the league’s top sides and that the game would give them much needed experience.
Despite Kake’s decision and subsequent loss, the game for them was made all worse when Valley sweeper Paul Duffy played on despite braking his right pointer finger, not once, but twice within the game.
“Paul is a tough one, he carried on when he did not need to and that goes to show his toughness,” said Kaka, whose team is sitting uncomfortably in second-last place.
For Khalsa, the win turned out to be the right tonic for them as they chase the championship, which they last won two years ago.
Bal said that they were uncertain how the season was going to turn out, but HKFC’s defeat was a much needed boost mentally for them.
“Things seem to be turning right for us, we did not expect KCC to do us a favour and beat Football Club,” he said.
He expected their game to be tough against a Valley side who are renowned for their stubbornness, but little did he realise their opponent for the day were missing key players through injury and that some had yet to return from Christmas holidays.
It took seven minutes before Khalsa got themselves into the lead with Ewis Ahmed netting from a penalty corner. Within the next two minutes Khalsa’s Bal scored and Ahmed scored again from another penalty corner. Maverik Yao pulled one back for Valley to go into the break 3-1 down.
But, that was as close Valley came in touch with Khalsa, who turned the game around with their speedy runs and one-touch hockey ripping through the Valley defence almost at will.
Ahmed netted four goals (two were from penalty strokes), Bal finished with a hat-trick, Ravi Pal scored two, with singles to Wang Hao, Gurbhag Singh and Dev Dillon to round things up for Khalsa.
Meanwhile, seventh-placed KCC’s stunning victory came literally on the final minute when they converted from a penalty corner, dropping HKFC-A, the defending league champions, to third place.
In other results: SSSC-A (Singh Sabha Sports Club) moved up to second after they ran 7-2 riot over HKFC-B in eighth spot; Punjab-A climbed up to fourth with their 6-3 win over Shaheen-A; while, Pakistan Association-A are in fifth place with their 10-2 win over Elite A, who remain holding up the standings last.
Hong Kong Hockey Association Women’s Premier League fixtures have now restarted after the break in proceedings caused by the women’s Asia Cup Qualifiers, in Singapore.
The Hong Kong team’s achievement in Singapore—under the stewardship of Head Coach Tina Bell-Kake—by taking the silver medal in the tournament, meant that they qualified, together with the tournament winners Chinese Taipei, to take part in the 8th Women’s Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in September. They will compete against the four pre-qualified nations, China, Korea, Japan and India.
Two Premier League matches were played on Saturday Jan 5 both at Kings Park: HKFC-B defeated Recreio-A by two goals to nil and KCC beat Shaheen by the same score. Both games were well contested and very even but the winners in each case were just that little bit stronger and managed to force the goals.
A further match took place on the evening of Tuesday Jan 9 when HKFC-A came away winners by 3 goals to Valley-A’s 1. The win takes HKFC back to the top of the table and a point clear of Valley.
Eddie So is a photo journalist with over 20 years experience based in Hong Kong.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 20 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.