The new Hong Kong Hockey Association Premier Division field hockey season proper got underway last weekend with two Women’s matches and four Men’s matches.
As anticipated, the match between Punjab-A and HKFC-A at King’s Park was highly competitive and very entertaining. Whereas, the women’s star match between HKFC-A and KCC-A did not quite live up to expectation. The match between Valley-A and Pak-A was cancelled due a pitch watering problem.
Three matches at Kings Park and one at the HKFC were held last Sunday Sept. 23.
In the first match of the afternoon, SSSC-A beat Shaheen-A by three goals to nil.
The HKFC-B match at home against KCC-A and Elite-A verses Khalsa were a formality, with KCC-A and Khalsa winning five goals to two and nine goals to one, respectively.
Khalsa with their two new defections from KCC (Hong Kong captain Harry Bal and Dev Dillon) continuously put pressure on the Elite-A side.
Gurcharan Singh, the Khalsa manager, said that with the injection of new players they are eying the league title this year.
“Ahmed [Abdalla Ewis Khamis] scored a hat-trick, Arshad [Muhammed] got two, Harry and Dev both got one. We are going for the League this year. The two newcomers from KCC played well and we are looking forward to two more players from India to join us,” Singh told The Epoch Times.
The match between newly promoted Punjab-A and last year’s league winners HKFC-A lived up to its star billing. The Punjab team has been further strengthened with new players during the summer break and proved quite a handful for the experienced Club side.
HKFC-A started strongly, pushing Punjab-A back with their strategic pattern hockey and soon got their first goal. But even during that time, as soon as Punjab-A got the ball they looked dangerous, showing electrifying pace, accurate long passes and fine stick work.
They put pressure on the league champions and scored two goals—one midway through the first half and the other 17 minutes into the second half. Both goals came from long penetrating passes up-field to a lone attacker (No. 21) who gathered the ball, rounded his marker, pulled the goalie out of position and scored into open goals.
With the score-line at two goals to one to Punjab-A, the good sized crowd erupted and there was huge excitement among the Punjab supporters.
Club, having been in this position before, did not panic, instead they kept playing their systematic game, putting more and more pressure on the Punjab-A team. But goals would not come, the Punjab-A defense held up well and at the same time there could have been further additions to the score at the other end.
It was not until late in the match that HKFC-A turned the game their way.
An injury to a Punjab-A midfielder may have improved Club’s chances.
HKFC-A leveled the score and then converted two more penalty corners in the last five minutes of the game to make the final score Punjab-A 2 to HKFC-A 4.
Everybody agreed it was an exciting “edge of the seat” game of hockey.
Hong Kong Football Club’s coach Simon Chapman said that while his team was not playing their best hockey they were happy with the win.
“The A’s had a wonderful first and last quarter, but in terms of overall performance, it was a little disjointed at times and lacking patience,” Chapman told The Epoch Times.
“However, the general feeling is that we played well enough and that’s going to be important from game to game. Collectively everyone was very happy with the outcome and to get that first game under the belt.”
The first Premier match of the year saw the top two teams from last year in HKFC-A playing KCC-A, but it was a hard introduction to the new season.
HKFC-A struggled to find their silky touch, so much admired last year, showing a lack of match practice, with lots of handling and passing errors.
It was still nil-all at half time, but immediately from the second-half whistle Club’s Nicola Sawyer raced through to notch up the first goal. It looked like the “talking to” by coach Simon Chapman had paid off, but it hadn’t. Although they pressed, they could not convert another goal and KCC-A equalized mid-way through the second half.
KCC-A looked the more steady of the two sides, with some good defensive play and efficient deployment of the ball. Nevertheless, both defenses held firm during a flurry of activity towards the end of the match for the game to finish in a one-goal draw.
In the other match of the weekend, HKFC-B played hosts to the newly elevated Club de Receio-A side. Although HKFC-B were generally a little stronger—scoring two goals in the first half—CDR-A were by no means overpowered. They held their own quite well with good interceptions and good passing, but although they pressed, CDR-A could not force a goal.
Women: Valley-A play Shaheen-A on HV1 at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 29. There are no men’s Premier Division matches this coming holiday weekend. Men’s matches resume on Sunday Oct. 7. The annual Komagata Maru U18 tournament takes place at King’s Park on Monday Oct. 1.