The Road to 2022 Qatar campaign for Hong Kong started on Thursday, September 5th, with just a disappointing point taken home from National Sports Complex in the capital of Cambodia, as Tan Chun-lok’s strike in the first half was cancelled out by Keo Sokpheng.
In his second game in charge of Hong Kong, Mixu Paatelainen named a much different line-up at Phnom Penh. The on-form striker James Ha started on the right with Sandro up front, while Chung Wai-keung was given a surprise start as Law Tsz-chun pulled out with an injury during the warm-up.
Hong Kong almost opened the score in the opening minute when Andy Russell came close with a header from Ju Yingzhi’s freekick. It was all Hong Kong in the first 20 minutes and took the lead, when James Ha stole the ball from Soeuv Visal and set Tan Chun-lok free on the right-wing, who then squeezed the ball through the keeper’s leg to the bottom corner of the net in the 16th minute. Hong Kong failed to capitalise on more defensive mistakes by Cambodia earlier on, and as Cambodia grew into the game, Hong Kong was made sitting deeper. With 12 minutes remaining in the first half, the equaliser came as Sath Rosib sent Keo Sokpheng through an offside trap to slot past Yapp Hung-fai.
Returning from the break, Hong Kong sat back even more and was mostly threatening through dead balls. Cambodia tried to break through Hong Kong’s defense with dangerous long balls that were often too deep or them not able to divert the subsequent shots on target. They came closest with a winner when substitute Sieng Chanthea drove down the left before cutting into the box and unleashed a shot that hit off the post. With 10 minutes left on the clock, Helio saw his goalward effort denied by the reliable Keo Soksela, who ensured a point was shared between the teams.
Hong Kong will next face Asian’s no. 1, Iran at Hong Kong Stadium on next Tuesday, September 10th 8pm.
1 Yapp Hung-fai
2 Tsui Wang-kit
3 Dani Cancela
6 Huang Yang
8 Chung Wai-keung
10 Ju Yingzhi
14 James Ha
16 Tan Chun-lok
23 Andy Russell
7 Alex Akande (for Sandro, 59’)
21 Tong Kin-man (for Tsui Wang-kit, 71’)
22 Sun Ming-him (for Chung Wai-keung, 73’)
Credit: Now Sports