HK hope to exploit weak Bangladesh

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong are looking for their first win in Asian Cup qualifiers when they meet Bangladesh in a group F match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka tonight.

Having lost their opening match 3-0 at home to Qatar last week, Hong Kong desperately need a win against possibly the weakest team in the group.

Only the top two teams from each group qualify for the finals in 2007. With both Qatar and Uzbekistan getting off to a winning start, Hong Kong must win the match to keep in touch with the two leaders.

Hong Kong coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheung, who arrived in the Bangladesh capital on Sunday, admitted Hong Kong should be the better side on paper, but he would not take things for granted against the South Asian country.

'The home team are always difficult to beat if they opt for defensive play. On paper, our ranking is much higher than the opposition, but it tells you nothing about the result of the match which will be known only after the game,' said Lai yesterday. 'We have had two training sessions at the stadium and the conditions look fine. The weather is about 28 degrees Celsius daytime, which is not as hot as we expected. In fact, playing in the evening fits us better because the temperature is cooler.'

Lai said he was told Bangladesh would kick-off their professional league in October and their first home match in the Asian Cup qualifiers had already aroused great interest in the capital. 'They are expecting a full house at the 30,000-seat stadium. With such a huge crowd supporting the home team it will be more difficult for us.'

Hong Kong rank 118th in the world, while the home team are 143, but Hong Kong were held to a 2-2 draw by the home side when they met in an Asian Nations Cup preliminary competition in 2003.

Striker Chan Siu-ki is still nursing a knee injury and is likely to miss the match. He will be replaced by Cheung Sai-ho, who normally plays in midfield. Cheung's partner up front will be Chan Ho-man, while Gerard Ambassa Guy will act as the third striker coming from the midfield.

'Cheung is a very skilful player and we hope he can bring us additional firepower up front,' Lai said.

'Our target is to take all three points and hopefully we will get what we want by adopting an attacking formation.'