Hong Kong 0
Chinese Taipei 2
Chen, Hao Wei 34
Chen, Hao Wei 4’5 + 2
Torrential rain, an unplayable wet surface as well as an under-par Hong Kong performance at Mong Kok stadium placed a real dampener on Mixu Paatelainen debut as Hong Kong manager. The lacklustre home side lost 2-0 to a more hungry and motivated Taiwan side and marks the first time the visitors have beaten Hong Kong in decades.
The home fans were eager to see in the new dawn of the Hong Kong team yet were left disappointed as a disjointed Hong Kong side seemed off the pace and lack fluidity. Some will argue that the wet and slippery conditions restricted Hong Kong’s style of play yet the Taiwanese visitors were still able to seize the initiative, take the lead and keep a clean sheet despite being reduced to ten men towards the end of the game.
Chen Hao Wei proved to be the Taiwanese match winner and kept his calm and composure on two occasions to give the visitors the goals to which Hong Kong had no response. In goal, Taiwan’s Pan Wen Chieh, also made some crucial saves and proved to be a commanding presence as Hong Kong came out stronger in the second half. Hong Kong’s Ju Yingzhi came close with a thumping header off the crossbar in the 77th minute but it was to prove to be one of those types of nights for the home team.
The game marked a coming of age for an ever improving Chinese Taipei side who are now under the helm of Louis Lancaster. The Englishman, a graduate from the University of Bath, has slowly worked his way up the football ladder and this convincing win over Hong Kong shows that his star is rising.
Lancaster worked closely with previous Chinese Taipei manager, Gary White. The latter went onto take over the Hong Kong job before his move to the J-League and thus, Lancaster stepped up into the Taiwanese hot seat. This was a popular choice given his knowledge of Taiwanese football and the players both home and abroad in the set-up.
Lancaster gave his view of the game and said Chinese Taipei deserved their win due to their intensity on and off the pitch:
“We (Chinese Taipei) want to be intense and purposeful in everything we do so we want to be fast paced so when the opposition have the ball then you want to suffocate the space and when we have the ball, we want to play a style of possession, where we play forward and hurt the opposition and cause problems and as I said yesterday, if we were to play Hong Kong every week, I would focus a bit more on Hong Kong but then we have another game and another game so for us, our preparations have always been about us.”
Paatelainen said that Hong Kong did not meet the physical challenge of the game especially in the first half.
“We played soft and played like boys and I thought the Taipei players were stronger and they really wanted to hold that ball and hence, we conceded the ball far too easily to Taipei and both of their goals came from these situations. We did not play strong enough or quick enough so that was disappointing. It was totally different in the second half and our boys were much stronger and the majority of the second half was in the Taipei end and we should have scored.”
Hong Kong, under the guidance of Paatelainen, will have to vastly improve as the World Cup 2022 qualifiers are on the horizon and then Hong Kong will face the big guns of East Asian football in the EAFF finals to be played in South Korea in December.
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