Lai takes Guangdong route to Kuwait
Hong Kong returned from a five-day training camp in Guangdong province yesterday, minus the services of one player, but considerably fitter for the experience.
Sun Hei winger Wong Chun-yue has been ruled out of Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Kuwait in Siu Sai Wan, having suffered an ankle injury in Saturday's training match against Shenzhen Jianlibao.
The match against the Chinese Super League leaders, which Hong Kong lost 2-1, was the culmination of a gruelling stay at the Qingxin Hot Springs Football Training Base in Qingyuan, Guangdong.
'It was hard, but we lived,' laughed Happy Valley striker Lawrence Akandu, revealing that the squad even trained three times on one of the days.
'It was good for us,' declared coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheung. 'It's always difficult for me because here only the Hong Kong team work hard. The clubs don't work as hard as us, and there are always a lot of injuries when we start training.'
Lai, whose main concern is the fitness of captain Lee Wai-man who is nursing a knee injury, was phlegmatic about the loss of 26-year-old Wong, saying Kitchee's Chan Yiu-lun and Happy Valley's Kwok Yue-hung leaves them with plenty of depth in his position.
He said playing Shenzhen was a reasonable dress rehearsal for Kuwait, who beat Hong Kong 4-0 in Kuwait in June.
'Shenzhen's whole game is pressure. They attacked us from midfield and in some ways they looked like Kuwait,' he said.
Lai is hopeful that Hong Kong, who are third in the four-team group three points behind their opponents, can turn around that result. 'We're confident. In the first half in Kuwait we weren't the weaker team, even though we finished it 3-0 down. We played well,' Lai said.
Hong Kong squad
Goalkeepers: Fan Chun-yip (28, Happy Valley), Xiao Guoji (25, Kitchee). Defenders: Feng Jizhi (27, South China), Lee Wai-man (31, Happy Valley, captain), Luk Koon-pong (26, South China), Peter Man Pei-tak (22, Buler Rangers), Poon Yiu-cheuk (26, Happy Valley), Szeto Man-chun (29, Kitchee). Midfielders: Chan Yiu-lun (22, Kitchee), Cheung Sai-ho (29, Happy Valley), Kwok Yue-hung (29, Happy Valley), Lau Chi-keung (27, Sun Hei), Poon Man-tik (29, Sun Hei). Forwards: Lawrence Akandu (29, Happy Valley), Au Wai-lun (33, South China) Chan Ho-man (24, Sun Hei), Chu Siu-kei (24, Sun Hei).