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Mentally Tough Hong Kong Reach the EAFF 2019 Finals In South Korea - Wild East Football
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Mentally Tough Hong Kong Reach the EAFF 2019 Finals In South Korea

Photo - Zinc Yeung (Offside.hk)

EAFF East Asian Cup – Second Preliminary Round

Third Match – November 16th 

Mongolia 1                                       HK: 5  Sandro 24′, 57′, McKee 36′,
Baise  83′,  Akande 87′

Second Match – November 13th 

North Korea: 0                                HK:  0 

First Match – November 11th 

HK: 2  McKee 65′, Chung Wai                      Keung 84′

Chinese Taipei: 1  Chen TingYang                                 81′

After so many near misses and heartache,  Hong Kong have finally began to fulfil their potential and have made it to the finals of a major regional tournament; namely the East Asian Football federation (EAFF)  championships to be held in South Korea in 2019.

Hong Kong’s qualification was all decided on goal difference on the final day of competition with Hong Kong needing to outscore their arch rivals, North Korea.  This dream became a reality as Hong Kong stormed to a 5-1 win over Mongolia while North Korea could only beat Chinese Taipei 2-0 thus ensuring Hong Kong topped the group and qualified for the EAFF finals for the first time since 2010. Under the stewardship of their new manager, Gary White, Hong Kong have become a resilient team who are more attack minded and the change, in a short period of time, has been remarkable.

The task at hand was simple for Hong Kong; score a hatful of goals and hope that Chinese Taipei did them a favour against the North Koreans. It was sweet revenge for Hong Kong who were knocked out by the North Koreans in the previous EAFF tournament as well as the Asian Cup. Crucially, Hong Kong managed to score five and this was the first time that Hong Kong have scored over two goals since a 7-0 win over Bhutan in 2015 in world cup qualifying.

Hong Kong have had very little luck go their way in the past few years so this was a very long over due set of results for Hong Kong.

Gary White, the Hong Kong manager, spoke to the media after the game and praised the effort from his team and the loyal travelling supporters.

“The feeling is unbelievable and I am so happy for the players who have put in so much passion and commitment,  desire and blood and sweat for this and this is something that we deserve. I believe we are the best team in the tournament with the way we approached it and the way we went after it. It just so fantastic for the players, the fans and for the HKFA and for the entire Hong Kong football community as it is something which is needed as we have to start reaching our potential and the feeling is unbelievable and I am talking about all the players.

“All the 20 players that we brought here, have all made an impact and have all made a contribution and all the staff have been fantastic and to see Ken (Kwok), my assistant in tears afterwards, just shows what it means to people and everybody has been fantastic and I am just so happy and now it is back to work and to see what the next step in this journey is. I am just over the moon and I just want to thank again the supporters who came here (To Chinese Taipei) and the supporters who have been sending messages back from Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong deserved to be in this position after a solid 2-1 win over Gary White’s old team, Chinese Taipei and a commendable 0-0 draw with the North Koreans. The latter game was a close affair with Hong Kong having several changes including McKee who had a shot into the side netting early in the first half and then there was a chance from Xu, whose shot was fumbled by Myong Guk Ri in the North Korean goal, which subsequently hit the bar. North Korea have been Hong Kong’s key nemesis in recent qualification matches and the North Koreans have always had the edge; though now, this Hong Kong side are made of sterner stuff.   

The EAFF finals will be a real challenge for Hong Kong as they will face East Asia’s strongest teams though this will allow them to gauge how far they have progressed as they take on hosts South Korea, China as well as Japan.

Atom Cheung, RTHK sports radio presenter, said that Hong Kong’s new attacking focus deserved to be rewarded.

“It was refreshing to see HK able to turn up the offence when they have too.  Looking back, that goal by Chung Wai Keung against Chinese Taipei was crucial. Props to White for showing faith in the youngsters!”

Hong Kong football fan, Nick Ng believes that Hong Kong now have a stronger mindset and come to the games with a strong sense of positivity.

“It is all about the mindset I think.  We used to play in a way that we used to think that we were not a strong team or we could win games.  We always defend and sat back but not anymore which is good.”

The finals of the EAFF are set to be played in December 2019. A whole new world of possibilities for Hong Kong football and the future is definitely brighter.

Photos from the EAFF tournament from Zinc Yeung (Thanks to Offside.hk)

Hong Kong Women’s Team Excel at Olympic Qualifiers in Thailand 

Hong Kong’s women’s team have finished second in Group B of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 Asian Qualifiers Round 1 and advanced to the next stage. The tournament was held in Thailand and Hong Kong got off to a flying start against Lebanon with a 4-0 win and the an impressive draw with powerhouses, Iran. Photos from Ricardo Rambo.

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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