In their first game of the 2018 World Cup Qualifier campaign, Hong Kong thrashed Bhutan 7:0 in a sold out Mong Kok Stadium. The home team dominated the game against a very young amateur squad after striker Jaimes McKee opened the scoresheet early on. However, the euphoria shouldn’t take too much of a hold over the team, as the task ahead against Maldives on Tuesday will be the first real challenge.
(Team Overview by Tobias Zuser)
Hong Kong coach Kim continued with the well-rehearsed 4-3-3 system (which could be considered a 4-1-2-3, as Bai He sticks to the role of a very defensive #6). As captain Chan Wai Ho picked up an injury before the match, Jean-Jacques Kilama made his debut in the national team as a centre back next to Festus Baise. Lo Kwan Yee served at right back with winger qualities, which was surprising given that coach Kim has mainly tried out Cheng King Ho in that position in recent games. As expected Lam Ka Wai and Ju Yingzhi took care of the midfield, mainly distributing the balls along the wings to Christian Annan on the left and Xu Deshuai on the right (though both of them did change positions later on). McKee seemed to be the logical choice as a centre-forward for Kim, in spite of a rather difficult season with Sun Pegasus with just 5 appearances (4 of them in the starting XI) and 1 goal in the Premier League. Left-footed Godfred Karikari (Chinese nickname: Gou Faan / Gao Fan), who currently plays for China League One side Beijing BG, is definitely a good alternative on the left. His strong physique might especially help against Maldives’ strong defenders. However, he has also only scored once so far in this season. As Sun Pegasus forward Chan Man Fai dropped out with an injury the day before the game, South China’s Lam Hok Hei was the only remaining back up striker for Hong Kong, as Chan’s replacement Lo Kong Wai (also South China) was preferred in a midfield role. Even so, both have accumulated very little representative team experience over the last years. With Huang Yang and Lee Ka Yiu, Kim was also able to count on a veteran and a talented youngster to back up Hong Kong’s #10 Lam Ka Wai as well as Ju Yingzhi.
(Match Report by Jeff Hardbattle)
1 Yapp Hung Fai (C) — 12 Lo Kwan Yee, 5 Jean-Jacques Kilama (7′: Yellow Card), 3 Festus Baise, 13 Cheung Kin Fung (32′: 21 Kwok Kin Pong) — 4 Bai He —— 10 Lam Ka Wai, 23 Ju Yingzhi (63′: 17 Lee Ka Yiu)— 8 Christian Kwesi Annan (63′: 11 Godfred Karikari), 22 Jaimes McKee, 7 Xu Deshuai
22 Hari Gurung, 3 Kinley Wangchuk, 4 Jigme Tshering Dorjee, 5 Dawa Gyeltshen, 6 Dawa Tshering (73′: 15 Diwash Subba), 7 Tshering Dorji (68′: 17 Lhendup Dorji), 8 Karma Shedrup Tshering (C), 9 Biren Basnet, 10 Chencho Gyeltshen, 14 Karma Nidup, 18 Passang Tshering (59′: 12 Lungtok Dawa)
Hong Kong set out to dominate from the offset and they fashioned their first real chance just before the 10 minute mark, when Lo Kwan Yee headed down a cross into the path of the oncoming Xu Deshuai, whose half volley was smartly saved by Bhutan keeper Hari Gurung.
Offside.hk spoke to Jaimes McKee before the match with the striker predicting himself to bag a hat trick, yet one might have been forgiven for thinking that that was a little too far beyond him when, in the 16th minute after a defensive mix up just outside Bhutan’s 18 yard box and with just the keeper to beat, he rolled the ball agonisingly wide of the left hand post.
All was forgotten three minutes later, however, as he was able to connect with Cheung Kin Fung’s lofted cross with a spectacular diving header to put the home side in front, sparking wild celebrations in the stands.
And four minutes later it was 2:0, with Cheung Kin Fung again being the provider of a terrific cross into the box, only this time for the lurking Christian Annan to get his name on the scoresheet with a powerful header.
Hong Kong put the game beyond Bhutan in the 31st minute with yet another headed goal, this time Ju Yingzhi sending a long ball towards Lo Kwan Yee who duly headed home, adding to the visitor’s woes.
It wasn’t all about showcasing their aerial threat though, as after a shot from Jaimes McKee was palmed away, Christian Annan picked up the ball on the far left and sent the ball back across the goal to allow Ju Yingzhi to slot a low volleyed shot to the left of Gurung to end the first half knowing that victory was almost assured.
Things only got worse for Bhutan after the break, when defender Dawa Gyeltshen was (perhaps harshly) adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. Nevertheless, Lam Ka Wai made no mistake from the spot, putting his side 5:0 up in 49th minute.
McKee then looked as though he was going to keep good to his promise, when Xu Deshuai put him through on goal with a clever pass. The Sun Pegasus striker made no mistake and powered a shot from a tight angle into the back of the net.
He did have chances to seal a hat trick for himself, the best of which was a shot from outside the 6 yard box which, unfortunately for McKee, was hit directly at the goalkeeper who gathered the ball up.
Godfred Karikari was introduced onto the pitch in place of Annan in the 63rd minute, and rounded off his team’s tally for the evening after another fantastic through ball, this time from Lam Ka Wai. With just the keeper to beat, the Beijing BG man coolly stroked the ball home to the right of the oncoming keeper, making the scoreline 7:0.
19′ McKee; 23′ Annan; 30′ Lo Kwan Yee; 42′ Ju Yingzhi; 49′ Lam Ka Wai (PEN.); 57′ Mckee; 68′ Karikari
6,326 fans turned up to Mong Kok Stadium to watch the reds, but the game was marred by some controversy at the beginning of the match when sections of the crowd booed throughout the Chinese national anthem being played. While the Chinese state media didn’t particularly pick up on this, the game was televised live on CCTV5 and angered many Chinese fans who took to Weibo to vent their grievances. Some media outlets suggested that the whole stadium booed throughout, though the offside.hk reporters present found these reports to be erroneous.
Hong Kong supporters group “The Power of Hong Kong”, which consists of members across the entire political spectrum, spoke to offside.hk on this issue after the match, and gave the following statement –
“We understand and respect the political views of individuals but we do not encourage booing a national anthem as a way to show such political views. We respect the choices of individuals, but in doing so there might be a possibility that the HKFA could get into trouble with FIFA through fines and the possibility of playing games behind closed-doors. Please kindly make due considerations and we appreciate your understanding.”
Offside.hk would like to offer their support to the views of “The Power of Hong Kong” and feel that actions such as these can only have a detrimental effect on international games involving the Hong Kong representative team. As such, we encourage fans to show any political displeasure in less provocative and controversial ways so as not to disrupt the team’s preparations for their forthcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifying games.
OFFSIDE.HK’S MAN OF THE MATCH: Lam Ka Wai
After indulging ourselves in Hong Kong’s epic 7 goal victory for one night, it is now necessary to put this achievement into perspective. Hong Kong’s last thrashing dates back to 2009, when they beat Guam 12-0 in the East-Asian Championship qualifiers in Taiwan. However, a few months after that the representative team conceded 10 goals in their two games against Japan. For a similar success on home soil, we would need to go back as far as 2007, when the team beat Timor-Leste 8-1 in Hong Kong Stadium.
HOW TO QUALIFY
Hong Kong are currently competing in the 2nd Round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup joint qualification. In total there are 40 participating AFC members, divided into 8 groups of each 5 teams. Only the winner of each group as well as the four best ranked runner-ups will advance to the 3rd Round of the World Cup qualification while directly qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup. The remaining 4 runner-ups, the 8 third-placed teams as well as the 4 best fourth-placed teams will qualify directly for the 3rd Round. The other teams (the 4 weaker fourth-placed teams as well as the last in each group) will fight in a play off for the remaining 8 spots in the 3rd round.
The 3rd Round of the Asian Cup qualifiers will consist of 24 participants, divided into 6 group with each 4 teams. They will compete for 11 or 12 Asian Cup spots (depending on the performance of the United Arab Emirates in the qualifiers, as they will host the next Asian Cup).
16 Jun 2015 – Hong Kong vs Maldives (8pm, Mong Kok Stadium) SOLD OUT!
3 Sep 2015 – China vs Hong Kong (TBA, Shenzhen)
8 Sep 2015 – Hong Kong vs Qatar (8 pm, Mong Kok Stadium)
13 Oct 2015 – Bhutan vs Hong Kong
12 Nov 2015 – Maldives vs Hong Kong
17 Nov 2015 – Hong Kong vs China (8 pm, Hong Kong Stadium)
24 Mar 2016 – Qatar vs Hong Kong