Passionate groups of away fans cheered for Hong Kong’s first match against Chinese Taipei at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship Round 2. With Festus Baise reuniting with the squad on time, coach Gary White could start with his preferred 4-1-3-2 formation, with Tsang Kam-to, Festus Baise, Andy Russell and Dani Cancela at the back, and Huang Yang as holding midfielder just in front of them. In the centre was Wong Wai, with Xu Deshuai and Jaimes McKee on the wings, while Paul Olivier Ngue paired up with Sandro up front.
In the first half, Hong Kong claimed most of the possession, while Chinese Taipei started with a deep line. Wong Wai, Huang Yang and Sandro were given a certain freedom to create chances, and most of them were connected by long through balls. In the 10th minute, Sandro made a cross from the left, McKee splinted into the penalty area but he was just one step too late.
The most dangerous chance for Chinese Taipei was created by a freekick in the 14th minute, but Wu Chun-ching’s close-range header was tipped out by Yapp Hung-fai. The Taiwanese relied heavily on their players on the left to test Hong Kong’s defence through counter-attacks.
At the 25 minute mark, Hong Kong created a bit of a chaos inside the opponent’s penalty area, but Wong Wai’s overhead pass to Paul Olivier Ngue was saved by goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh. Five minutes later, Hong Kong almost scored after a corner, as Andy Russell appeared at the far side. He found Festus Baise on the right, but the header from the Guizhou captain was saved by Pan again. A few moments later, Wong Wai’s long pass found Ngue, who made a good first touch, yet he couldn’t find the target and the shot went over the bar.
The second half started with a crucial mistake by Festus Baise, which almost let Chinese Taipei take the lead, as Mao Li sprinted past both Baise and Russell. Luckily his attempt was saved by Yapp Hung-fai.
In the 58th minute, Chinese Taipei’s defender committed a handball outside the right penalty area. Wong Wai’s freekick found Andy Russel in a dangerous area, whose strong header went just wide. The goal finally came in the 64th minute, when Xu curled the ball from the right and Pan Wen-chieh was beaten by McKee’s perfect header.
Hong Kong almost scored again when Sandro found Festus Baise alone in front of goal, but the centre-back missed the open goal. Suddenly, Taiwan fought themselves back into the game and created more chances via the left flank. Weng Wei-pin and Wu Chun-ching started to cause problems, but they struggled to pass through Hong Kong’s disciplined defensive line.
In the 74th minute, Sandro’s killer-pass found McKee, yet McKee’s effort was saved by Pan Wen-chieh, who had a good game. Suddenly a shock for the travelling Hong Kong fans. Chinese Taipei equalized from a corner in the 81st minute, as Chen Ting-yang took advantage of the chaos in the box and his close-range effort sent the game back to a level.
But the Hong Kong players did not lose their hearts just yet and soon found another great chance in the 83rd minute. Set up by Wong Wai, Alex Akande’s power-shot was denied by Pan, but the loose ball came to Wong Wai’s feet. Wong’s witty pass found Chung Wai-keung, who just came off the bench for his debut. Chung didn’t hesitate and made the shot. Goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh reacted but was too late and the tricky shot found the bottom left corner of the goal. Chung scored his first international goal for the Hong Kong senior team.
Chinese Taipei started to increase the pressure for the last few minutes, but Wen Chao-an’s freekick outside the box went wide. The hosts had the last chance in stoppage time, but it was too little too late. Gary White continues his winning record in Taipei, however, this time with the opposing team. Hong Kong finally celebrated their first victory under the new coach, as the match ended 2-1. This means the national team will arguably play their “mini-final” against North Korea on Tuesday, November 13th (Kick off: 15:10). The winner takes it all – more or less.
You can find our player rating here.
1 Yapp Hung-fai
2 Dani Cancela
3 Festus Baise
6 Huang Yang
8 Xu Deshuai
11 Wong Wai
13 Tsang Kam-to
15 Paul Olivier Ngue
22 Jaimes McKee
23 Andy Russell
Alex Akande (for Paul Olivier Ngue, 62′)
Chung Wai-keung (for Xu Deshuai, 76′)
Tan Chun-lok (for Sandro, 89′)
Goals (Hong Kong): Jaimes McKee (65′), Chung Wai-keung (84′)
Yellow cards (Hong Kong): Daniel Cancela (78′), Tsang Kam To (89′)
Photos by Zinc Yeung (offside.hk)