31 Jan 2020

Natixis HKFC will host Societe Generale Valley on Saturday to determine who advances to the grand championship finals against Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers in a fortnight.

Tigers advanced over Gai Wu Falcons prior to the Lunar New Year break to give them a chance to defend their dramatic title win from last season. 

But once again Valley are the top contenders after entering the penultimate rounds with 12 wins this season as they swept the ranking rounds and league finals.

The multiple time repeat league champions will face off with a building HKFC side that did enough to reach the Top 4 Premiership from the early portion of the year but have yet to manage a win against Hong Kong’s elite top three sides since.

Football Club will be relying on intestinal fortitude and self-belief when they run out on Saturday night at Sports Road said Assistant coach Peter Ayres.

“Strength within the team – and from everybody - is the key. We need to keep possession against Valley and Valley doesn't give away their possession easily.

“They have had a good start to the season and their performance has been consistent. For us, it’s about the quality of our new players from the youth system, and our import players. They feel more enjoyable playing and achieving things for each other now, it’s all about teamwork.

Of course, defence wins championships and that is fortunately been a focus at HKFC all season.

“We keep building on our defence policy from last year. We need to pressure opponents when they have possession. That is a key, as is playing the full 80 minutes with consistency. We have to execute the game plan all the way through.”

For Ayres there are glimpses of form coming together at Sports Road, although the lessons have been more painful than positive in the short-term.

With five losses in the Top 4, Club’s best outing came in the last match of the league season, a 10-7 loss to Gai Wu.

“We had a close run against Gai Wu,” said Ayres. “That shows us that against the top teams you can’t slip up at any moment during the game.”

That lesson will be even more vital against a Valley side on a mission to rectify last hurdle losses in the previous two Grand Championship finals, including a 13-8 loss to Tigers in the final outing of last season.

Player coach Bella Milo has her side concentrating on preventing a late let down in 2020 saying with Valley not overlooking Club this weekend.

“We are focused on this game and then will focus on the next one. The past two seasons we have learned from our experience that we need to be ready for every game. If we get through this weekend we will prepare well for next week.”

That highly focused environment is a key to Valley’s winning edge for Milo, “We have a competitive environment and we ask a lot from our players; our focus changes week to week to challenge players throughout the season.

“We have depth and a good mix of new players coming in and lifting the standard, as well as experienced player who turn up willing to get better each week, Milo added before delivering an ominous warning for the Sports Road faithful.

“The message in training last night was for us to turn up and be ruthless. So that’s our mind-set going into this weekend.”

Notes for spectators: After careful consideration and consultation, the HKRU has decided to proceed with the KPMG Women’s Premiership Grand Championship semi finals this Saturday. In light of the coronavirus situation, all games will be played at HKFC with no admittance for spectators. All games will be live-streamed on the HKRU Facebook page. We know that there will be many fans disappointed at not being able to attend, but we hope that everyone will understand these measures are being taken to help mitigate health risks. The HKRU would like to thank our sponsors and the clubs for their support, and particularly HKFC for making the games possible in extremely challenging circumstances.