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    Churchill Brothers thrashed in AFC Cup opener

    Hong Kong: Churchill Brothers' campaign in the AFC Cup football tournament started on a sour note as the Indian club was thrashed 0-3 by Hong Kong champions, Kitchee Sports Club, here on Tuesday.

    In a one-sided game, Chu Siu Kei scored the opening goal for the hosts in the 28th minute, before Jordi Tarrs struck twice, in the 31st and 66th, to complete the rout at the Hong Kong Stadium.

    Despite the recent signings of India captain Sunil Chhetri, Afghanistan striker Balal Arezou and former Pune FC player Lamine Tamba, the scoreline suggests that Churchill Brothers struggled to find their feet against a side which is used to playing top European clubs like A C Milan and Arsenal.

    The Goans were also allowed to have the services of three other India players -- Sandip Nandy, Denzil Franco and Lenny Rodrigues ahead of their opening Group E match in this edition of Asia's second-tier club competition.

    The defeat meant Churchill Brothers' recent poor run continued. Churchill have not been in the best of form in the I-League, failing to win a match in three outings. Churchill crashed out in the Round of 16 after finishing second in the group stage of the tournament in 2010.

    Kitchee, the reigning Hong Kong league champions, have players from different countries, including China, Spain, Pakistan, South Korea and even New Zealand.

    They have been one of the most successful and big-spending teams in Hong Kong having played exhibition matches at home against top European sides like A C Milan, Juventus, Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal.

    Two top teams from each of the eight groups, after playing on home and away basis, would qualify for the Round of 16. Churchill Brothers got the chance to play in the AFC Cup this time after I-League champions Dempo pulled out, citing financial issues.