Hong Kong in upbeat mood after checking out their next opponents

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 12:00am

The Hong Kong squad went on a 'spying' mission yesterday in preparation for for their remaining matches in the preliminary round of the East Asian Championship against Mongolia and Guam.

SAR coaches and players, along with just 672 spectators, watched their two upcoming opponents - Guam and Mongolia - in action at the Hong Kong Stadium. And they came away feeling reasonably confident of continuing their winning form.

Mongolia, who face Hong Kong tomorrow, lost 4-0 to Taiwan yesterday. And Guam, who play Hong Kong in the last fixture of the qualifiers on Sunday, were beaten 2-0 by Macau in the opening game of the double header.

Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai-chung asked his players to pay attention to their expected markers.

And winger Lee Kin-wo saw Guam's defence as vulnerable to Hong Kong's speed and technique. 'I think they're not too strong. The defence was not really organised and not too fast. If we use our speed and don't let them settle down then I'm confident we can beat them,' Lee said.

Guam put up a brave performance against Macau, who are generally regarded as the better team, but were limited to long shots at first as Guam closed down space. The Macanese broke the deadlock eight minutes before half-time when defender Geofredo de Sousa Cheung volleyed home from six yards.

The game was settled when Cheung got his second goal in the 77th minute, curling in a free-kick at the near post.

Macau's Japanese coach Masataka Imai said his players were tired after playing three games in five days. 'It is important that we won today.' he said. 'I hope we've improved a bit in mentality and tactical awareness.'

His Guam counterpart, Willie McFaul, praised his players and said he saw signs of improvement. 'Compared with our last game [against Mongolia] we defended well and passed better. Things will get better,' McFaul said.

In the second match, Taiwan's forward Huang Che-ming scored a brace, while substitute Chiang Shih-lu added another from a free header and keeper Yang Cheng-hsing rounded out the scoring when he buried a penalty in second-half stoppage time.

Despite winning by four goals, Taiwan coach Lee Po-houng said his team could still do better.

'We're using this tournament as preparation for the Asian Cup so it is more important that my players do what I ask them to do. They only did 60 per cent of what I asked them today.'

Mongolia coach Lkhagvajav Dorjjav said fatigue had caught up with them after three matches in less than a week. But the chance to play Taiwan had fired them up, he added.