Kitchee fail to qualify for AFC Champions League

Kitchee came up short in their bid to qualify for a spot in the AFC Champions League after being beaten 1-0 by Hanoi T&T in a preliminary match in Hanoi on Tuesday night. 

Kitchee, a Hong Kong-based club, saw their hopes of competing in the AFC Champions League go up in smoke when Hanoi T&T skipper Gonzalo Marronkle scored the lone goal of the match in the 62nd minute.

Kitchee captain Lo Kwan-yee lauded his side’s performance in the first half, but added that their inability to maintain the same high standards in the second half cost them dearly.

Lo also attributed his side’s loss to the fact that they were unable to take full advantage of their opportunities to score.

“We did well in the first half,” Lo told the South China Morning Post. “We also created a few chances but failed to convert them into goals. A lapse of concentration then cost us dearly in the second half although our defence did pretty well to stop the opponents for most of the time.”

However, Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng felt that his side’s ailing fitness levels in the second half also played a part in their loss.

“Our fitness levels dropped a bit in the second period but we should have scored in the first half, and that could have made a difference,” Wang said.

This is not the first time that Kitchee has tasted defeat in a preliminary match – they suffered the same fate last year when they were beaten 4-1 by Chonburi of Thailand.

Hanoi T&T now have a chance to qualify for a place in Group H of the AFC Champions League, but they will have to get past Pohang Steelers on February 9. Should they do so, Hanoi T&T will be grouped with reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande, 2007 champions Urawa Red Diamonds and Sydney FC.