(Reuters) - Eastern Sports Club coach Chan Yuen-ting was comforted by her opposite number Luiz Felipe Scolari after her Asian Champions League debut at Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande ended in a nightmarish 7-0 defeat.
The 28-year-old Chan, affectionately nicknamed “Aw Yuen”, which translates as beef ball, became the first woman to guide a men’s team in a top-flight continental competition when she led the Hong Kong champions out at the Tianhe Stadium on Wednesday.
Her dreams of giving the 2002 World Cup-winning Brazil coach a run for his money soon turned to dust when full-back Wong Tsz-ho was sent off for a handball within the first four minutes and Ricardo Goulart slotted home from the resultant penalty.
Eastern were run ragged by a relentless Guangzhou and found themselves trailing 3-0 and reduced to nine men after Wong Chi-chung was sent off for a second yellow card offence in the 34th minute. The home side added four more goals in the second half.
Scolari, who embraced Chan after the game, said the red cards had distorted the nature of the contest.
“I comforted her and told her this match cannot be a real evidence for your ability,” he was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.
“This is quite different when within such a short time you have two red cards like this -- you can’t take it seriously.”
Chan agreed that losing two players had sealed her team’s fate and said Eastern would need to adapt quickly to life in the region’s elite competition with five more Group G matches still to play.
”We have learned a very valuable lesson today,“ she added. ”Of course losing the game is a very big disappointment, but we learned we need to adjust our mentality as soon as possible.
“After the (first) red card everything changed, all our tactics and plans had to be changed. And in a competition like this the pace is quite different from that we encounter in Hong Kong... it’s our debut and naturally we’ll make mistakes.”
Eastern had earlier refunded fans who planned to travel to China for the game after informing them that they would not be able to attend, citing “internal problems” for the situation.
The Hong Kong club’s next match in the competition is a home game against Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale on March 1. Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings are the other side in the group.
Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien