Hong Kong face old rivals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 October, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 October, 1999, 12:00am

Hong Kong face their first test before embarking on their Asian Cup campaign later this month when they take on old rivals Shanghai in the Hong Kong-Shanghai Interport Cup today.

The SAR will be hoping to lift the Cup - celebrating its 13th year - for the first time in five years in Shanghai in a tournament dominated by the Shanghainese since its inception in the mid-1980s.

Last year, then-recently crowned FA Cup champions Shanghai defeated Hong Kong 1-0 thanks to a second-half header from forward Xie Hui at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Playing away, Hong Kong have a big task to turn the tide with Shanghai winning four straight interport victories last year.

The Hong Kong squad was coached then by Brazilian Sebastiao Araujo but this year's squad was lucky to have a coach at all.

Happy Valley coach Chan Hung-ping had a change of heart and decided to return to the team after first walking out because he felt he was being denied authority.

Hong Kong warmed up for the Shanghainese game by losing 3-1 on penalties to Qingdao after the teams finished goalless at full-time in a friendly on Wednesday, and Chan said Shanghai would be even tougher.

'Shanghai have always been one of China's strongest teams. We also have two key defenders out of the match which doesn't help matters.

'Wong Wai-tak [Happy Valley] and Leung Shing-kit [South China] are nursing injuries and will not play. It's going to be much harder for us to contain Shanghai's attack without the pair,' said Chan.

South China's Yau Kin-wai and Happy Valley's Lai Kai-cheuk will probably replace the injured duo.

Chan will also experiment with Yee Hope attacker Andy Wong Chi-keung partnering South China forward Ricky Cheng Siu-chung up front for the first time.

'Au Wai-lun [South China's striker] is not 100 per cent fit,' said Chan.

The Hong Kong team's preparation for the Asian Cup, for which the SAR have been drawn against Indonesian and Cambodia, has been troubled since a training squad was announced in September.

But since the squad was whittled down from 33 to 25 last week order has been restored.