Asian Cup Qualifying Group E
Huynh Quoc Anh 24
Nguyen Anh Duc 67
Trong Hoang 81
Hong Kong 1
Lo Kwan Yee 81
Hong Kong’s slim chances of making the 2015 Asian Cup finals in Australia evaporated on a wet night in Hanoi with a 3-1 away defeat to Vietnam.
Requiring a win and other results to go their way, Hong Kong also had to face an intimidating away crowd in the My Dinh stadium. The hosts could also play pressure free as they had nothing to play for and had not even registered any points.
Hong Kong started strongly but all hope virtually disappeared when Huynh Quoc Anh put the home team ahead in the 24th minute. This left Hong Kong on the back foot and they left themselves exposed as they pressed forward looking for an equalizer.
In the second half, Vietnam exploited the gaps and striker Nguyen Anh Duc duly punished them further in the 67 minute. A difficult situation for Hong Kong was made virtually impossible until Lo Kwan Yee scored with nine minutes of regular time left. It was his first international goal and this gave Hong Kong a lifeline.
Again, Hong Kong pressed forward and Vietnam took advantage of this as Trong Hoang scored a third in the 83rd minute and Hong Kong’s heads dropped again. Vietnam could have scored a fourth but had a penalty saved in the 87th minute. Hong Kong ended their Asian Cup campaign with 4 points with Vietnam picking up their first 3 points on the night.
Group E contained Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam with the UAE and Uzbekistan securing the top two places in emphatic style.
After a strong start with a home win (Vietnam) and an away draw (Uzbekistan), Hong Kong’s campaign stuttered to a disappointing end. Many Hong Kong fans questioned why subsequent homes games against the UAE and Uzbekistan were moved from the smaller and more compact Mong Kok stadium to Hong Kong stadium.
It has been widely acknowledged by fans and players, that the capacity crowd and atmosphere in Mong Kok against Vietnam was fervent and contributed to the win. Hong Kong Stadium does have a larger capacity and better facilities but cannot match Mong Kok for big match atmosphere as the fans and players are within touching distance of each other. The last time Hong Kong made the finals was 1968 and its long suffering fans will now have to wait even longer.
Christopher KL Lau is a freelance writer who was born in England and now works in Hong Kong.
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