Despite the current circumstances in the city, Hong Kong produced another solid defensive display in front of 4,541 fans at Hong Kong Stadium on Thursday evening, November 14th, keeping Bahrain at bay with a goalless draw.
In search for the first win under his name, Mixu Paatelainen fielded a more attacking and youthful line-up compared to the last outing against Iran with three changes. Leung Nok-hang and Cheng Siu-kwan were given their first senior start, replacing Helio who was nursing a minor injury as well as the suspended Dani Cancela. Meanwhile, Giovane da Silva was picked ahead of James Ha as the lone striker.
With a more offensive approach than previously, Hong Kong maintained a 4-5-1 formation with Law Tsz-chun and Cheng Siu-kwan on the wings, while Tan Chun-lok often drove forward. Bahrain dominated possession right from the start, but lacked the end product to really threaten. Hong Kong relied again only on counterattack.
The first threat came after 26 minutes, when Mohamed Abdulwahab was sent free down the left and dispatched a through ball across the goalmouth, but Mahdi Al-Humaidan arrived a step too early for the ball. Hong Kong had a counter just three minutes later, when Giovane almost controlled a high pass in front of the goal after some nice movement from Hong Kong. The ball was subsequently cleared to Tan Chun-lok, whose follow-up shot was deflected high for an easy collection from the keeper. Three minutes before the break, Bahrain came close again down the right as Kamil Al Aswad found Ismail Abdullatif, whose attempt from one yard was brilliantly turned away by Yapp Hung-fai.
Bahrain applied more pressure and pushed forward after the break, mainly by sending low through balls into the box and trying some long range efforts. However, the closest chance in the game fell to Hong Kong in the 63rd minute, when Roberto Affonso rose above the defenders to meet Cheng Siu-kwan’s freekick, but his header flew just inches wide of the post. In the subsequent movement, Abdulwahab Almalood broke through the offside trap, but he went too deep and had his narrow-angle attempt flying high. Substitute Chung Wai-keung provided fresh legs to break through down the left, but Hong Kong still failed to find the final product. With five minutes remaining on the clock, Bahrain was desperate for a goal, but Isameel Hasan’s shot only hit the outer side of the net and Ali Madan saw his attempt denied by Yapp Hung-fai.
At the end, glory was shared but both teams certainly might feel they could have taken all three points. ahrain might pinch themselves for being wasteful in front of the goal, whilst Hong Kong would need to work on scoring goals to win games.
Bahrain coach Helio Sousa stated in the post-match press conference that he was disappointed with the final result, as they wanted the win and dominated the game, but appreciated his team’s overall effort of giving their all. Sousa also acknowledged the home fans for creating an amazing environment and their immense support for the players. Hong Kong’s Mixu Paatelainen felt the strong desire within the team for a win as well, for themselves, the fans, and Hong Kong. He was particularly pleased with the organised defense and the clean sheet. While the team has been improving gradually further work is needed in the offensive department.
Next up is Cambodia at home at Hong Kong Stadium on Tuesday evening, November 19th.
1 Yapp Hung-fai
2 Tsui Wang-kit
3 Law Tsz-chun
4 Leung Nok-hang
6 Huang Yang
12 Giovane da Silva
15 Roberto Affonso Junior
16 Tan Chun-lok
20 Cheng Siu-kwan
21 Tong Kin-man
23 Andy Russell
9 Sandro (for Giovane da Silva, 72’)
8 Chung Wai-keung (for Law Tsz-chun, 72’)
22 Sun Ming-him (for Cheng Siu-kwan, 90+4’)
Photo gallery by Zinc Yeung (offside.hk)