The Hong Kong national team had climbed three places in the latest FIFA world rankings to 137th place in the world, and moved up 2 spots up to 22 in the AFC Zone Ranking. This has marked a steady improvement of the Hong Kong team under the stewardship of current national manager, Kim Pan Gon and chief executive Mark Sutcliffe.
Since taking over the team, Kim Pan Gon has breathed new life into a stagnant and stale set up; this new energy has seen the national team climb 35 positions up the FIFA ranking from 172 to 137. The impressive jump is a result of a strong run of results against stronger nations such as Malaysia whom Hong Kong drew away with in November 2012. In 2013, Hong Kong began their AFC Asian Cup strongly with outstanding results against Uzbekistan (Away draw) and Vietnam (Home win) in February and March respectfully. A 1-0 friendly win over Singapore in March 2013, also contributed to their leap up the table. In the final match of the Asian Cup 2015 Group Stage, Hong Kong will play an away match in Vietnam on March 5th, 2014. It still remains possible for Hong Kong to qualify for the big party set to occur in Australia in 2015. Hong Kong fans would love to join the party in Australia so are hoping results go their way.
“I am delighted that the hard work of the players, coaches and support staff has been reflected in the improved rankings of both our men’s and women’s teams. There is room for further improvement but only if we have the resources to train and play properly.”
– Mr. Mark Sutcliffe, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Football Association
Under Coach Kim and Chief Executive Sutcliffe, the structure and and organization of Hong Kong football has improved drastically. This has been reflected by the results on the field of play. “Project Phoenix”, the much vaunted plan to overhaul Hong Kong football from the bottom up has slowly paid off and the national team are spearheading this revolution.
It’s not just the men who are making great waves, the Hong Kong women’s team have climbed three spots in the FIFA standings to co-rank 61st in the world with Croatia. This turnaround has been overseen by Chan Suk Chi, Head Coach of the Women’s Hong Kong Representative Team and Ms. Betty Wong, the manager of the women’s team. Under a new structure and management, Hong Kong football, after years of under achievement, is finally heading in the right direction.
Christopher KL Lau is a freelance writer who was born in England and now works in Hong Kong.
All pictures courtesy of Christopher KL Lau. He has figured out Twitter can be be found here: https://twitter.com/Chris_KL_Lau
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