Ceres-La Salle FC have secured home advantage in the AFC Cup Round of 16 and out to get an upset is Hong Kong’s South China AA.
Photo from South China AA Wikipedia Page
South China Athletic Association is Hong Kong’s most successful club scoring the most first division titles (41) in its 112 years of existence. The club has participated in the AFC Cup 7 time since 2008 reaching the semifinal in 2009. Also known as “Chinese Temple”, this storied club reached the quarterfinals in last years AFC Cup yielding to eventual champions in Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim.
The Hong Kong club started poorly in the group stages losing the first three games and recovering to win the last three and the runner up spot for group G. In the last three games, the club has only allowed one goal (via deflection) while scoring seven. South China finished third in the recently concluded Hong Kong Premier League where eventual champions eastern and Kitchee were on a two-horse race for the title.
Players to Watch
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) employs a 3+1 foreign player rule where 3 Non-Asians and 1 Asian player can be included in the line-up of different clubs. This allows the development of local talent within the country and the continent.
#22 Bojan Malisic (Defender)
The Serbian centerback has been with the club since 2014 and is currently the captain of South China. He stands 1.86 cm (6’1″ ft) and is agile enough to cover fast attackers.
#8 Mahama Awal (Midfielder)
This Cameroonian winger has the pace, passing, and shooting skills, playing mostly from the right flank but can switch when needed. He has scored two goals in the competition and has also an assist. The topscorer for his club in the HK Premier League with 11 goals, he should be marked very well by opposing defenders.
#3 Ryan Griffiths (Forward)
The Australian striker is the top scorer of the club in the AFC Cup after getting three goals, two from penalties. The 34-year old has played for the Socceroos and is known for his positioning and knack on goals. He is a well traveled journeyman who has played in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
#10 Luiz Carlos
The Brazilian midfielder stands 1.85m (6’1″ft) has not scored in the AFC Cup but is known for imposing his presence in the middle for South China.
#7 Chan Siu Ki (Forward)
Chan is the Hong Kong National Team’s all-time top scorer in international football. The 30-year old’s versatility to play up front and on the wings makes him a dangerous player aside from the finishing that he can produce.
#21 Law Hiu Chung (Midfielder)
Law is a very hardworking midfielder for South China. His hard work has given him two goals in very scrappy occasions. The HK player should not be overlooked by the defense.
#36 Wisdom Fofo Agbo (Defender)
The Ghanian born player has been a veteran for the Hong Kong league since 2004. He plays defensive midfield for South China .
Possible First XI
South China has been very dangerous in set pieces and in the counter. A good portion of the goals came from corners where the offense is quick to react on goal scoring opportunities. Mahama Awal has lorded over the right flanks with his pace creating opportunities for himself and for his teammates during counterattacks. South China is a scrappy team which takes advantages of second balls and undisciplined defenses. Their defense has only conceded once in the last three games after allowing nine goals in the first three. They were disorganized defensively in their first three games especially on set pieces and counters.