Coach eyes second medal as HK take on Germans
Coach Chan Kong-wah has challenged his players to rise to the occasion today and win Hong Kong their second medal of the Games.
Having suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of South Korea in the men's team semi-final, Hong Kong take on Germany for the bronze medal.
The Germans gave the Chinese a fright in the first semi-final with Timo Boll beating newly crowned singles champion Zhang Zike, but they could not sustain the momentum, losing the three next matches.
'The Germans hold the upper hand but anything can happen at the Olympic Games, especially at this stage of medal contention,' said Chan after the disappointing performance against the Koreans. 'We are not without quality as we proved against the Japanese in the quarter-finals, but the boys must perform to their full potential.
'We must throw everything we have at them. There is no second chance now as a defeat will cost us the medal. The players know it well.'
Chan said mental strength would be vital. 'We were not without our chances against the Koreans, but the players just could not finish off the crucial points.
'Although the final score was 3-0, it was not a true reflection of our performance.'
Tang Peng, who almost fired Hong Kong into the semis single-handedly with his classy performance against Japan, forced 2004 Athens Games singles champion Ryu Seung-min into a fifth and deciding game. And he was unlucky to lose the decider 11-9.
'I could not ask for more as he did an exceptional job again after the quarter-final against Japan,' said the coach. 'He was leading 8-6 in the fifth game and was just not strong enough mentally to hang in there to get the big points. Perhaps luck was also not on his side when he lost the last point to Ryu.
'He will be a crucial player against Germany as he has also defeated Boll, their number one player, before.'
Tang, 31, said he was ready to deliver after his missing out on the gold-medal match. 'Winning a medal at the Olympic Games is the biggest dream for any player and I will cherish the opportunity to beat the Germans and am sure my teammates feel the same.'
Tang said he and Leung Chu-yan, 33, needed to take painkillers before the match against South Korea. 'We are not young any more and have been troubled by chronic injuries like many other veterans, but there is no excuse for losing to the Koreans. We must make amends against Germany and win a medal for Hong Kong.
'Someone said we are the weakest team among the four semi-finalists and have little chance, but I don't believe that. Many underdogs fight their way back because it is an Olympic Games and because of the heated atmosphere. At this level, it is not only skills that matter most, it is whether you have the strong belief in yourself that you can do it, no matter how difficult it is.'