HK must do without their lone goalscorer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 July, 2006, 12:00am

Kitchee striker Chan Siu-ki, who has scored the only goal for Hong Kong so far in the 2007 Asian Cup qualifiers, has been left out of the SAR squad for their crucial home and away matches against Uzbekistan.

The young striker, who will turn 21 in two weeks, is one of the three Kitchee players left out by the Hong Kong Football Association when it announced a 30-member training squad.

'The club [Kitchee] said they would start their pre-season training in late July, which clashes with the Hong Kong team training camp in Guangdong. If Kitchee players cannot make the training camp, there is no point in getting them into the squad,' said Martin Lam, general secretary of the Hong Kong Football Association.

Having collected three points from their first two matches in group F, Hong Kong need to improve their poor finishing if they are to keep alive their hopes of reaching next year's finals.

But the absence of Chan will definitely affect the SAR team, who lost to Qatar 3-0 at home and then scored a marginal 1-0 away win over Bangladesh in February via Chan's goal.

Hong Kong coach Lai Sun-cheung admitted the absence of the 1.85m striker would affect their firepower, but he could do little to help. Two other Kitchee players - midfielder Szeto Man-chun and fast-improving defender Cheung Kin-fung - are also missing from the squad.

'Chan is powerful in the air, while Szeto is also a key pace-setter in midfield, but he is already out of the next match after picking up two yellow cards in the two opening games,' said Lai.

Hong Kong will visit the former Soviet state for their third group F match on August 16 and then entertain them at Hong Kong Stadium on September 6.