Facing an English giant

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2003, 12:00am

THE PROSPECT OF taking on one of the world's most famous football teams before a full house at Hong Kong Stadium would be reason enough for most players to get nervous.

But ask Lo Kwan-yee (pictured), at 18 the youngest player selected for the 26-man preliminary squad to play Liverpool in an exhibition match on July 27, and he will have this to say.

'Of course I'm nervous,' said the Buler Ranger midfielder. 'But that's because I'm afraid I won't be included in the final squad or even if I am, the coach won't play me.'

Coach Lai Sun-cheung said he will cut the squad to 20 when it returns from training camp in Guangzhou five days before the showdown with the four-time European Cup winners.

'For young players like us, it's already a great honour to be chosen to play against such a great side, I'm sure the result won't matter that much,' Lo said. 'So as long as we give them a good fight we will have nothing to fear.'

The English giant has promised to field a full-strength line-up featuring the likes of England internationals Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, and Emile Heskey, as well as German midfielder Dietmar Hamann, and Finnish captain Sami Hyypia.

Chan Wai-ho, who at 21 is emerging as one of the best defenders in Hong Kong, echoed teammate Lo's feelings.

'Though I'm excited about being picked, I don't feel too nervous right now as this is not the first time I have represented Hong Kong to play against stronger foreign teams,' said Chan, a solid central defender in the Hong Kong League XI's 2-1 loss against Denmark in February's Carlsberg Cup.

The pair were among the few surprise inclusions in a squad that also boasted five other Rangers - keeper Goldbert Chi-chiu, captain Cheung Yiu-lun, defenders Man Pei-tak and Chan Yiu-lun, and forward Ho Chi-wing.

They will be joined by Guangzhou Xiangxue Pharmaceutical central defender Ng Wai-chiu, and Sun Hei winger Lo Chi-kwan.

Rangers manager Philip Lee Fai-lap said he was happy for the selected players and hoped they would treasure the opportunity.

'They are the future of Hong Kong football and I hope they will take this unique opportunity to learn as much as they can from Liverpool,' Lee said. '[Rangers] have been holding training sessions almost every day after the season ended in late April so I'm sure they are all in very good shape.

The full squad:

Goalkeepers: Goldbert Chi-chiu (age 21, Rangers), Fan Chun-yip (27, Happy Valley), Chung Ho-yin (32, South China), Chan Ka-ki (24, Sun Hei). Defenders: Yau Kin-wai (30, South China), Ng Wai-chiu (21, Guangzhou Xiangxue), Chan Wai-ho (21, Rangers), Cheung Yiu-lun (25, Rangers), Szeto Man-chun (28, South China), Poon Yiu-cheuk (25, Happy Valley), Peter Man Pei-tak (21, Rangers), Luk Koon-pong (24, South China). Midfielders: Chan Yiu-lun (20, Rangers), Lee Kin-wo (34, Sun Hei), Lau Chi-keung (26, Sun Hei), Cheung Sai-Ho (27, Happy Valley), Wong Chun-yue (25, Sun Hei), Chan Chi-hong (26, South China), Tam Wai-kwok (26, South China), Lee Wai-man (29, Happy Valley), Lo Kwan-yee (18, Rangers). Forwards: Lo Chi-kwan (22, Sun Hei), Kwok Yue-hung (28, Happy Valley), Ho Chi-wing (21, Rangers), Chan Ho-man (23, Sun Hei), Au Wai-lun (31, South China).