On a sodden Tuesday evening of June 11th, in front of 2,421 fans at Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong were beaten by Chinese Taipei, with two unanswered first half goals for the visitors in what was new head coach Mixu Paatelainen’s first game in charge.
Pre game, Paatelainen spoke of wanting to start the match in an attacking manner with high energy levels, but it was the visitors who started much the brighter. Chinese Taipei should have taken the lead after eleven minutes following a perfectly weighted cross that presented Turkish-born Chu En-le, aka Onur Dogan, with a fantastic chance that Yapp Hung-fai’s reflexes kept out magnificently.
Just after the half hour mark, Taiwan had a deserved opener. Chu En-le brushed aside Dani Cancela down the right and squared it for Wu Chun-ching, who laid on a skillful backheel to Chen Hao-wei, who drove the ball through Yapp for 0-1.
Hong Kong’s best chance of the half came via Chan Kwong-ho who was making his national team debut in place of the earlier-injured Alex Akande, but the newly signed Southern man pulled wide from the edge of the box. On the stroke of half time, Chinese Taipei scored a second as “Man of the Match” and constant threat Chen Hao-wei squeezed through multiple ricochets to fire past a helpless Yapp.
The second half saw a slight improvement from Hong Kong without causing their opponents too much trouble. With 15 minutes remaining, visiting substitute Li Mao was shown a red card following two bookings for kicking the ball away and a late tackle. The card seemed to slightly galvanize the home team and they came closest to scoring two minutes later, when Ju Yingzhi headed onto the bar from six yards out following a Tsui Wang-kit cross. Any hopes of a fightback sizzled out, however, and Chinese Taipei ran out as comfortable and deserved winners.
This also marked the first time in history for Hong Kong to lose to Chinese Taipei (competing under that name). The latest defeat to Taiwan (as Republic of China) dates back to 1967, when most of the Taiwanese team consisted of players from Hong Kong.
Post match, Paatelainen spoke of an unacceptably soft start from his team and admitted that Hong Kong had conceded possession too easily. The new head coach also pointed towards the improvement of the visitors over recent years and spoke of theirs being a model to follow. Attention now turns to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers that are scheduled to start in September, as well as the EAFF championship in December.
Hong Kong will need much more preparation if they are to implement the new coach’s style of play in time for the upcoming competitions.
1 Yapp Hung-fai
2 Dani Cancela
3 Festus Baise
6 Huang Yang
8 Yue Tze-nam
10 Ju Yingzhi
11 Alex Akande
15 Philip Chan Siu-kwan
17 Tsui Wang-kit
22 Jaimes McKee
23 Andy Russell
13 Chan Kwong-ho (for Alex Akande, 24′)
7 Wong Wai (for Philip Chan Siu-kwan, 46′)
21 Sun Ming-him (for Jaimes McKee, 73′)
16 Tan Cun-lok (for Yue Tze-nam, 78′)
14 Chan Shinichi (for Dani Cancela, 85′)
On the bench:
18 Yuen Ho-chun
19 Wang Zhenpeng
4 Leung Nok-hang
9 Yuen Chun-sing
12 Law Tsz-chun
20 Lee Ka-yiu
Photos by Christie Leung and Chris Lau