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Hong Kong Keep Asian Cup 2019 hopes alive with 2-0 win over Malaysia

Hong Kong celebrate their second goal against Malaysia. Photo by Dennis Lo

ASIAN CUP 2019 GROUP B

Hong Kong 
Tarres 44′                                    McKee 49′

Malaysia 0 

Attendance: 7,920

Hong Kong kept their Asian cup 2019 hopes alive with a solid 2-0 win over an under-par Malaysia.

With many eyes on the national anthem, the team kept their focus on the pitch and picked up a vital three points. Recent additions to the national team, Recio, Tarres and Cancela all started the game and made an immediate impact as Hong Kong were relatively solid throughout the game.

Hong Kong started strongly and in the 12th minute, DS Xu volleyed past the far post. In the 28th minute, Karikari missed a goal as he did not connect to a pin-point pass. Jorge Tarres, making his second appearance for Hong Kong, hit the bar in the 31st minute. The game swung in the 40th minute when the Malaysian captain, Safiq Rahim, was sent off for a stamp on Cancela. Malaysia were reduced to ten men and Hong Kong were in the driving seat.

Hong Kong took the lead via a Tarres header in the 43rd minute and just after the second half started, Jaimes McKee was rewarded for his hard forward running with Hong Kong’s second goal, which was a close range header.

Malaysia did not really threaten at all and were disappointing across the field. Their manager, Eduardo Manuel Vingada, reflected on yet another poor result for Malaysia.

“First, I would like to congratulate Hong Kong as they deserve to win. They were better than us even until the end of the first half when it was eleven against eleven. When it was ten against eleven, then we conceded the goal at the end of the first half and things became more difficult as we conceded a second goal and then practically, the game was over.”

Football writer Mark Hampson shared his views on the Hong Kong win.

“Hong Kong had Malaysia on the back foot after engaging in a high tempo pressing game plan from the start. The speed and strength of Hong Kong midfield was too much on the day for the young inexperienced Malaysians as they often gifted procession away in the middle of the pitch, which forced their defence, to be on the back foot. Malaysia could have some hard feelings over the red card  for their captain but on second viewing it does seem like the right decision. Hopefully this good performance won’t go unrewarded with reports that Hong Kong may be deducted points due to the behaviour of the local fans.”

Hong Kong football fan, Nicholas Ng, said this was an improved performance from the Hong Kong team:

“Good performance from the Hong Kong side today. Jordi being the most influential player on the pitch. He is a very smart player, he added great quality and experience to the team.”

“However, facing 10 men for nearly 60 minutes, the Hong Kong team still struggled to find a good and effective the way to breakthrough an organised defence. Improved attacking would be the main key against Lebanon.”

Hong Kong, now have five points after four games and have new hope in terms of qualifying for the finals in the UAE in 2019. A win against runaway group leaders Lebanon on November 14th at Hong Kong stadium, again, will prove to be vital in this on-going journey.

Debutants shine in 4-0 Friendly Win over Laos

Several naturalised players made their debuts for Hong Kong against Laos whilst the promise of youth was also given an opportunity as Hong Kong dominated Laos in a recent friendly at Mong Kok stadium. Football commentator Patrick Au Yeung shared his thoughts on the game.

“A widely-expected victory from Hong Kong team over Laos in the international friendly should lift their spirits before the must-win contest against Malaysia next Tuesday to keep the slim chance alive for a spot in the AFC Asian Cup.”

Hong Kong Fans at the Laos game. Photo: Patrick Au Yeung

“The current Hong Kong roster looked quite different from the one in September. Coach Kim Pan-Gon immediately called up Jordi Tarres, Dani Cancela and Fernando Recio. All three received their HKSAR passports only a few days ago. The outcome seemed to be instantaneous.”

“In the first half, the young, dynamic Hong Kong side cleverly used the width of the pitch to crack Laos defense. Cancela and Xu Deshuai kept testing the opposition by feeding crosses for strikers Lo Kong-Wai and James Ha. It took only 10 minutes after kickoff to put the first goal on scoreboard. A cross from Xu found Jordi, who shot one at the near post for the initial goal. Only three minutes later, a header from Wong Wai beat Laos goalkeeper to double Hong Kong’s lead.”

“Kim relied on veterans, notably Sandro, Godfred Karkari, to continue in the second half. On the 73rd minute, Itaparica made a perfect cross to six yard-box, where Godfred wasted no time to head in the third goal. Sandro completed Hong Kong’s rout by scoring on a penalty kick after Alexander Akande was knocked down in the box.”

“In the post-game press conference, Kim expressed the performance of his troops as satisfactory but there were a few things to be improved. The coaching staff will look into the game video, trying to find the weakness for which corrective actions will be taken.”

The striker, Jordi Tarres, also said: ‘It was a special and happy moment to make his debut for Hong Kong. He was proud to be part of the squad but at the same time, it was a huge responsibility as expectations from fans are high too.”

Christopher KL Lau was born in England and grew up in both England and Hong Kong, and has a background in media, education and non-profits. He also is a freelance writer / photographer and has written for a number of magazines, websites and newspapers around the world on many subjects ranging from the arts to travel.

Chris is passionate about sports and its place in society and is keen to promote both Hong Kong and Chinese football to a wider audience.

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