HK pin hopes on tight defence

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 August, 2006, 12:00am

Disappointing results in two friendly matches on the mainland will not affect the Hong Kong team's confidence ahead of the 34th Asian Schools Football Championships, said the team's coach Suen


The 18-member squad, along with five officials, leave tomorrow for the 10-day tournament to be held in Danang City, Vietnam.

'We used these two matches to test out tactics and we know more clearly now where our strengths lie,' Suen said.

The team played the under-15 and under-17 Guangdong province sides last week, losing 3-1 and 2-1, respectively.

'What we wanted to do was see if we could get results playing attacking football. In the first game, it obviously didn't work out, but we adjusted the strategy for the second game and played much better. Although we lost both matches, we learned a lot, and will certainly adopt a more defensive style in Vietnam,' Suen added.

The draw has yet to be made for the competition, which is expected to feature 11 teams.

Japan, South Korea and China are likely to be the top seeds.

Suen admitted that Hong Kong may struggle to match their 2004 result, when they qualified for the quarter-finals as hosts.

'We have done well in this competition in the past, but this time we have a very young team. It will be an adventure for them, and they can only learn from the experience,' Suen said. 'I think the boys may be lacking the aggression and power required to get to the semi-finals. They will need a lot of stamina to play matches every two days for the duration of the event.'

Suen will look to key players, such as Kitchee squad member Tse Kok-wai and top scorer Ng Siu-fai, to inspire the team. Many of the boys were members of the Hong Kong schools team who won the local Division Three district title last season.

'Tse has a lot of potential, loads of energy and commitment. Ng played with us in Division Three and scored a few goals. Our captain Law Fung is an intelligent player and a solid defender,' Suen said.

Also included in the squad is Jing Ying tournament top-scorer To Hon-to from YCH Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School, as well as Yu Maruyama of South Island School, the footballer of the year (Hong Kong and Kowloon schools).