It was nearly a year ago when the 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers started. Hong Kong lost 0-2 to Lebanon in their opening game, and the fans soon had to get used to an up and down of emotions: Tan Chun-lok’s goal secured a historic draw against North Korea, while Sandro missed his last-minute penalty against Malaysia. Now we arrived at the end of the campaign: The final and decisive qualifying match kicks off on Tuesday, March 27th. Here are all the things you need to know.
When and where
The match will be played at the Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang, DPR Korea, which can hold up to 50,000 spectators, on Tuesday, March 27th. It is scheduled for 17:00 Pyongyang time, which means that the match will start at 16:30 Hong Kong time, as North Korea implemented a unique GMT+8:30 time zone a few years ago. Sadly, there will be no live broadcast of the match available in Hong Kong, but the FA promised to provide match news via their Facebook page.
Who will be playing?
Tan Chun-lok is suspended due to his red card in the match against Lebanon Lebanon, while Huang Yang is still recovering from an injury he picked up in the Hong Kong Premier League. Festus Baise will also miss the match because of an injury, so Roberto Affonso Jr. or even Lau Hok-ming might have a good chance for a start in the defensive midfield. Sandro is also be suspended after receiving two yellow cards in the campaign. Meanwhile, 33-year-old Tong Kin-man was selected for the first time, and judging from his current form, coach Liu Chun-fai could hand him a start on Tuesday.
How will Hong Kong play?
Coach Liu Chun-fai refused to reveal his tactics when asked by the press, but it is believed that Hong Kong will be playing with three in the back judging by the number of center backs that were selected. As Huang Yang and Tan Chun-lok will both miss the match, Roberto will probably return to the midfield and start with Lau Hok-ming or Leung Chun-pong. Jordi has just overcome an injury, so he might only start on the bench, while Alex Akande and Jaimes Mckee will be the likely starters in the attack on Tuesday.
How can Hong Kong qualify for the Asian Cup?
Hong Kong got five points and are currently three points behind North Korea. This means that Hong Kong MUST win on Tuesday in order to qualify for the final round of the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. In the past, Hong Kong has never defeated North Korea, so some say it is almost a mission impossible. But like a very wise football commentator once said, “It ain’t over till its over!”.
GK: Yapp Hung-fai (Eastern), Wang Zhenpeng (Kitchee), Chan Ka-ho (Yuen Long)
DF: Wong Tsz-ho (Eastern), Dani Cancela, Helio, Tong Kin-man (Kitchee), Andy Russell (Liaoning FC), Tsui Wang-kit (Meizhou Hakka), Roberto Affonso Jr. (R&F), Chak Ting-fung, Jack Sealy (Tai Po)
MF: Ju Yingzhi, Leung Chun-pong, Xu Deshuai (Eastern), Lam Ka-wai (Kitchee), Lau Hok-ming (Southern), Wong Wai (Tai Po)
FW: Jaimes McKee (Eastern), Alex Akande, Paulinho, Jordi Tarres (Kitchee)