Underdogs to Playoff as Favourites Knocked Out of Holland Cup
In an extraordinary afternoon of hockey at the King’s Park Hockey Stadium, both of the top two teams were knocked out of the Hong Kong Hockey Association Holland Cup by underdogs at the Semi-final stage.
SSSC’s sudden death surprise
In the first match, Singh Sabha Sporting Club (SSSC-A) played strong favourites and Premier League Champions, Khalsa-A, in what one might have thought would be a formality match for the reigning Holland Cup Champions. But not so.
First and surprisingly, Ahmed Ewis, Khalsa’s top goal scorer did not start the match—he did not want to play against the team that caused a gash over his eye a few weeks before.
Khalsa seem preoccupied and could not get into their normal match rhythm. Misdirected passes, errors in ball handling and missed chances in front of goal all added up to an unusually poor performance for the champions. Even when Ewis joined the attack he had not warmed up with the team prior to the start and was off-target with his normal deadly drag-flick.
At full time the score was 0-0.
The first half of the “sudden death” extra time passed with the score-line still locked on 0-0.
But in the second period of extra time an offence in front of goal by the Khalsa defence gave SSSC-A a penalty opportunity, which their number 60 Baljit Singh slotted home.
The players and SSSC-A supporters erupted in jubilation, knowing they had won the tie and they would compete in the Final this coming Sunday April 28.
Punjab Rise to the Occasion
In the Premier Division this year, Punjab-A and HKFC-A both finished on 42 points. This indicated that this might be a difficult match for favourites HKFC-A, the 2011-12 Premier Division champions.
The young Punjab-A team put HKFC-A under pressure right from the start, with fast running, great stick work and some long penetrating passes. Punjab scored first 10 minutes into the match, but Club-A hit back just a few minutes later to equal the score. This scenario was repeated just five minutes later to make the score 2-2 at half time.
In the second half, Punjab again put the pressure on right from the whistle and scored a third goal, just three minutes into the half. It was an up-hill battle for Club-A from that point onward.
Club played some good strategic hockey, but whenever they got close to the Punjab-A goal, there were too many Punjab players back to defend and it was almost impossible to get the ball into a scoring position. This situation continued right up until the final whistle with Club throwing more and more people forward to try to equalise.
But it was no use and, right at the death, Punjab-A popped in another goal with just 3 seconds left on the clock to score an impressive 4-2 victory.
The Final on Sunday April 28 will therefore be between SSC-A and Punjab-A.
In the Women’s Holland cup the favourites have made it to the Final.
In the Semi-final played on Saturday April 20, Premier League Champions Valley-A notched up another victory over KCC-A 3-1 to move them forward to the Final.
In the other Semi-final, which was not played until Tuesday evening April 23, between HKFC-A and their Club-B side, who had moved forward to the Semi-final by beating Shaheen-A in penalty shoot-out the previous week. But as might have been expected Club-A beat their fellow club side 8-1.
These results set up a mouth watering clash between Valley and HKFC in the Final also to be played at King’s Park on Sunday April 28.
Valley-A have played exceptionally well throughout the season and defeated the defending Premier League and Knock-out Cup Champions of 2012 (HKFC-A) in their final clash of the season to edge the Premier Division championship. At the end of that match, Lara McKee, Captain of HKFC-A, was obviously disappointed, but indicated there was still the Holland Cup to come and they would be trying very hard to reverse the result “bring it on” she commented to The Epoch Times at the time.