Friday 26 February 2010

Blue is the ‘New Black’ in the Europa League

During the 2nd leg of the Round of 32 (i.e. 23 and 25-02-2010) in the Europa League, all match officials sported the new Adidas World Cup 2010 kits. Compared with the previous week, this presumably meant that all Europa League referees have now received their new Adidas kits.

Of the 16 matches, 11 matches saw officials wear cyan-blue, 3 poppy-red, and 2 neon-yellow.
Match officials wore blue in 69% of this week’s Europa League matches.

In the 1st leg of the Round of 32 (i.e. 16 and 18-02-2010) in the Europa League, the match officials’ Adidas kits appeared to be in a transitional phase between the current Euro 2008 kits and the new World Cup 2010 kits.

Of the 16 matches, 5 matches saw the officials wear the Euro 2008 kits (4 were aqua-blue, 1 was infra-red); and in the other 11 matches the officials wore the new World Cup 2010 kits (8 were cyan-blue, 2 neon-yellow, 1 poppy-red). Which presumably meant that some of the referees had yet to receive their new Adidas kits.
Match officials wore blue in 75% of last week’s Europa League matches.

HKRef reckons UEFA "prefers" that Europa League match officials wear blue, providing there is a choice over black, red or yellow. In fact, so far no Europa League match official has worn black (i.e. punjab-black).

Therefore, Blue is the ‘new Black’ … at least in the Europa League!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

China Wins 2010 East Asian Football Championship

Congratulations to China PR who emerged victorious and were the only unbeaten team during the 4-team 2010 East Asian Football Championship Finals held in Tokyo, Japan between 6 and 14 February 2010.

Here are the final table standings following 6 competitive games:

Perhaps not so widely known is that there were a total of 19 cautions and 2 send-offs: China PR picked up 6 cautions; Korea Republic had 5 cautions and 1 send-off; Japan had 4 cautions and 1 send-off; and Hong Kong picked up 4 cautions. As a result, Hong Kong were awarded the Fair Play Award for the EAFC 2010.

The Match Officials were:
Match Commissioner CHANG Chin Po /TPE

Matthew CREAM /AUS



NG Kai Lam /HKG

CHOW Chun Kit /HKG



KIM Jong Hyeok /KOR

LEE Jung Min /KOR

Here are the match highlights of the final match between Japan and Korea Republic:
Japan 1 v 3 Korea Rep : Match Highlights

China takes East Asian Championship (China Daily)
TOKYO: The China national football team emerged victors of the East Asian Football Championship beating a gritty China's Hong Kong team 2-0 at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday to win the tournament with seven points from three games.

Second-placed South Korea, who were defending the title, helped China's plight with a convincing 3-1 win over arch rivals Japan in a hotly contested game that saw both World Cup-bound teams finish the game with only ten men.

"Being champions marks a change for Chinese football," said China's head coach Gao Hongbo following China being presented with the East Asian Football Championship trophy and a check for 500, 000 U.S. dollars at the tournament's presentation ceremony.

"Chinese football is underdeveloped compared to the likes of Japan and South Korea, but winning this tournament is not just about the national team, it's a reward for everyone working in China's football industry," he said.

"I'm extremely happy with the team's performance over the past seven months as our world ranking has improved by more than twenty places and winning the East Asian Football Championship represents the strength of Chinese football," said Gao.

China's 0-0 stalemate against a below-par Japan in their opener, which caused a stir for the host nation as the team and particularly head coach Takeshi Okada were booed off the pitch despite Okada's men beating Hong Kong 3-0 in their previous game, bolstered China's resolve ahead of their monumental clash with South Korea.

However, the result for Japan and the hammer-blow dealt to the hosts by South Korea on Sunday, resulting in Japan finishing in third place with four points, will be of grave concern for Okada with the World Cup in South Africa only four months away.

China, described as "vastly improved" by Okada following their opening tie, went on to thrash South Korea 3-0 in an historic victory that brought an end to 32-years of fruitless results against the Koreans, and a resounding second half performance on Sunday against bottom-placed Hong Kong was enough for China to take the title in 2010, having first won the tournament in 2005.

South Korean coach Huh Jong-moo applauded the performance of his players following their crushing defeat of Japan, saying it was: "A fantastic new year's gift for his team and the South Korean people," adding that the tournament had been a valuable opportunity to test new players in the absence of missing players in Europe and to evaluate the squad's strengths.

Meanwhile Japan's national team coach Takeshi Okada, seemingly loosing the public's faith in his ability to steer the team forward as indicated by more booing from the Japanese fans after Sunday's must-win game for Japan, apologized for not winning the tournament at home soil.

"We were extremely sorry not to win the tournament, said Japan coach Okada, adding that his team, hotly tipped from the get-go to win the tournament, ahead of their World Cup campaign, lacked urgency in their final game against South Korea.

"There is no magic solution and the team won't be overhauled, but we were too patient and needed to change our objective and apply more pressure when it was necessary," said Okada.

China's women's football team also ended their East Asian Football Championship campaign on a high on Saturday, disposing of bottom-placed Chinese Taipei with a comfortable 3-0 victory to secure second place in the tournament.

Sunday 14 February 2010

2010 World Cup Referee Kits

Here are the new Adidas Referee Kits for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

[World Cup 2010 Colours: Neon-yellow; Punjab-black; Cyan-blue; Poppy-red]

Compared with the current Adidas referee kits (i.e. Euro 2008 Colours: Lemon-peel; Dark-onyx; Aqua-blue; Infra-red), the new kits now come with a collar. Also, there is no longer a zipper to accommodate referees who have big heads!

Note: Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger to all!

Friday 5 February 2010

Two Good Calls: South China v Sun Hei

The following occurred during the Division One league match between South China and Sun Hei on Tuesday 2 February 2010 at Hong Kong Stadium. Attendance was 1,557.

The score is 2-1 in South China’s favour, but Sun Hei are in the ascendancy. Having gone 2-0 down in the first half, Sun Hei started the second half brightly and missed several good opportunities until they made it 2-1. Sun Hei continued to press, as the following video clip shows:

2 Feb 2010 Hong Kong South China v Sun Hei Two Good Calls

For Sun Hei's second goal (at 1:35), the AR correctly spotted that the ball had crossed the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. HKRef can see good teamwork and good officiating.

At 2:27, the Referee cautions South China forward (#33 Leonardo) for kicking the ball after the whistle has been blown for offside. The Referee nicely but firmly shows the yellow card; this is good officiating.

At 2-2, the match is nicely poised for an entertaining final 20 minutes. But a penalty decision in the 77th minute is as good as it gets.

Penalty: South China v Sun Hei

The following occurred towards the end of the Division One league match between South China and Sun Hei on Tuesday 2 February 2010 at Hong Kong Stadium. Attendance was 1,557.

In the 77th minute, a penalty was awarded to South China as their striker #7 Chan Siu Ki was brought down. Initially, it appears that Sun Hei defender (#12) makes the foul. Here is the official match camera clip, courtesy of SCAAwebtv (the foul is seen at 0:30):


However, by looking at a different camera view, it appears more likely that the Sun Hei midfielder (#14) tracking back is the guilty party. Sun Hei players then start to argue to the Referee that the foul occurred outside the penalty area. The Referee stands firm. Here is the unofficial match camera clip:

2 Feb 2010 Hong Kong South China v Sun Hei Penalty

In the end, the penalty was the match winner in what was an exciting match between current 1st placed South China and 5th placed Sun Hei (who notably beat South China 3-1 earlier in the season on Sunday 22 November 2009).

Monday 1 February 2010

South China Claim 2010 Senior Shield

Congratulations to South China for winning the Canbo Senior Shield during the final between Kitchee and South China on Saturday 30 January 2010 at Siu Sai Wan Stadium. Attendance was 2,760 and the final score was 2-4.

Kitchee : Liang, Zicheng 24', Baruc Nsue Burrcet 53'
South China : Schutz, Tales 68', Ferreira Da Silva, Leonardo 69', Chan, Siu Ki 79', Ferreira Da Silva, Leonardo 90'

Kitchee : Liang, Zicheng 56'
South China : Chan, Siu Ki 57', Sidrailson, da Mata Ribeiro 70'

Interestingly, there were no red cards although there were two incidents that may have warranted them.

In the 32nd minute during a free kick, Kitchee defender Ubay Luzardo Santana (#5) was holding South China forward Leonardo Ferreira Da Silva (#33). Leonardo retaliated by elbowing Santana in the chin. After consulting with the AR, the Referee gave a public warning to both players. [HKRef believes Leonardo was fortunate to escape being awarded a red card for violent conduct.]

In the 74th minute (with the match delicately poised at 2-2), a long ball from the Kitchee half led to a breakaway opportunity. Kitchee captain Lo Kwan Yee (#12) raced towards the South China goal in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. The South China goalkeeper Zhang Chun-hui (#23) came out of the penalty area and fouled Lo. The Referee gave a goal kick. [HKRef believes Zhang was fortunate to escape being awarded a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent.]

Here’s how the South China Morning Post reported the match:
South China fight back to lift Shield
Chan Kin-wa
Jan 31, 2010

Unstoppable Chan Siu-ki helped South China stage a thrilling rally from two goals down to beat Kitchee 4-2 and lift the Canbo Senior Shield at Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground yesterday.

Playing in front of 2,700 spectators, the Caroliners were on the brink of defeat in the first cup final of the season. But two goals within a minute by Tales Schutz and Leonardo da Silva midway through the second half revitalised their hopes, before Chan's wonderful half-volley from 14 metres put them into a 3-2 lead. Da Silva's second goal, in stoppage time, settled matters.

"It was a hard-earned victory, and I was thinking we might have to settle for second best when we were two goals down," said Chan. "But, thanks to the hard work of my teammates, we levelled the score and then got two more goals to lift the title. It was just amazing, like achieving the impossible."

While helping his club to the first title of the season, Chan also collected two individual honours as the striker swept both the top-scorer award, with four goals, as well as the award for the tournament's most valuable player.

"I can only say I am enjoying the best phase of my career and want to help the club in this year's AFC Cup and the Hong Kong team for the East Asian Championship," he said.

Chan said he knew both Japan and South Korea would send much stronger teams to the East Asian Championship than they did to the East Asian Games, in which Hong Kong beat both sides to clinch the gold medal. However, he said he had confidence in his teammates and believed they could win again.

"No one would have expected our results at the East Asian Games, and the same thing may happen at the East Asian Championship. Who knows?" he said.

South China players will form the bulk of the Hong Kong team as they challenge the three top powers of the region - South Korea, Japan and China - in the nine-day tournament, which kicks off in Tokyo next week.

Disappointed Kitchee captain Lo Kwan-yee said he hoped his teammates would recover soon from the defeat. "The result was difficult to take, as we were leading by two goals in the second half of a cup final. But our defence was caught off-guard with the two-goal cushion and allowed them to come back, which really should not happen," said Lo, who also questioned the refereeing. "I was brought down by South China goalkeeper Zhang Chunhui in the second half and it was definitely a red card for Zhang, but the referee gave no punishment for an obvious foul."

South China convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing refused to comment on the referee's performance. "We all know the general standard of referees in Hong Kong. They all have to improve and this is the job of the Football Association," said Lo. "We had a good match today, coming back from two goals down to beat Kitchee. The victory has given us more confidence."

Here are the highlights, courtesy of SCAAwebtv (the 'non-penalty decision' incident is seen at 4:00):