SAR coach to launch surveillance mission against Palestine

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 12:00am

A spy will be sent to gather intelligence about the mysterious Palestine team ahead of the World Cup Asian qualifiers first-round matches at the Hong Kong Stadium on March 4-11, according to the SAR coach.

'As a coach, the match against Palestine is the most difficult to prepare for. They don't broadcast any of their matches. We'll send a spy to investigate them,' Arie van der Zouwen said yesterday.

While the two remaining teams - group favourites Qatar and Malaysia - are already under the Hong Kong team's microscope, Palestine remain an unknown quantity. Qatar are the highest FIFA-ranked team in the qualifying geoup, lying at 100th, with Malaysia second in 108th while Hong Kong and Palestine are 123rd and 173rd respectively.

The Dutchman added: 'They [Palestine] haven't played a lot of FIFA matches so their ranking isn't high but I won't underestimate them.'

Although Qatar are strong, Van der Zouwen remains upbeat about Hong Kong's chances after having watched them play in Bangkok recently.

'I know Qatar's game is physical and they have a player on the left midfield we need to take notice of but they are not as strong as we expected in some areas. Hopefully, we will have a full-house behind us,' he said.

Van der Zouwen called for the fans' support but he realises his team must perform well in the first two games - against Palestine and Malaysia - of the round-robin competition if they are to make their final group clash against Qatar a showcase.

'I told the players they must get at least four points [one win and one draw] in the first two games. We might have a full-house against Qatar then. Home-crowd support, which we call the 12th player, is important for us,' he said.

He also stresses that the team, hit by rumours of conflicts over the past week, are now united. 'The track to improvement isn't always a smooth one but we're on the same track. Some players have come back and all players know they are of the same importance to the team,' he said.

Tickets will be available at 30 Circle K convenience stores across the territory starting on Sunday. Ticket prices range from $20 (students and the aged) to $120.