Two goals in the last ten minutes meant that Hong Kong lost out to Bahrain in a friendly game on November 9th at Mong Kong Stadium. In front of 2,485 fans coach Kim Pan-gon used the occasion to experiment ahead of Tuesday’s AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon.
The home side made two changes to the team that beat Malaysia last time out with Andrew Russell and Tan Chun-lok starting in place of Roberto Affonso and Godfred Karikari. Hong Kong began brightly and after six minutes saw Wong Wai drive a half volley goal wards that Bahrain keeper Sayed Hashem parried to Dani Cancela, who could only send the rebound over the bar from 15 yards.
Three minutes later and Bahrain should have been in front as Mahdi Abdul Jabbar shot over from six yards after Yapp Hung-fai had saved a Jamal Rashed effort. Chances then continued to come the way of Bahrain, as first Komail Hasan-Al Aswad and then Abdulla Yaser sent shots from outside the box narrowly over the bar, before Sayed Dhiya Saeed saw his cross from the left strike the near post and spin away from any potential Bahrain players on the rebound.
After the half time interval, Hong Kong introduced Lo Kong-wai and James Ha for Xu Deshuai and Jaimes McKee, but it was Bahrain who continued to get forward as the dangerous Hasan-Al Aswad drew a good stop from Yapp on the hour mark.
A raft of changes then slowed the tempo of the game, although it gave opportunity for Cheng Chin-lung to make his international debut and more playing time for Li Ngai-hoi.
The game seemed to be headed for a draw until Bahrain took the lead with just ten minutes left, as a strong run from substitute Ali Madan went unchallenged, before he placed a shot from 18 yards past Yapp, who despite getting a strong hand to the ball, couldn’t keep it out.
Russell was then moved from his usual defensive position to attack, as Hong Kong sought to find an equaliser and he had a header well saved by the away keeper, who gratefully caught the ball at the second attempt with Ha lurking.
The sucker punch came with three minutes to go, however, as Bahrain sealed the victory. Yapp could only clear a back-pass to Madan, who gave the ball to fellow substitute Sami Al-Husaini, who kept his composure to sidestep Helio and pick his spot past Yapp.
A 2-0 home defeat leaves coach Kim with much to think about ahead of Tuesday’s crucial qualifier against Lebanon and the Korean spoke of a ‘positive first hour’ and the chance that the game afforded him to play some of the younger squad members. Andy Russell also seemed to take the positives, saying that the team could learn from this experience whilst emphasizing that “preparation for the Lebanon game was the most important” aspect for this evening’s game.