HK see hopes diminish after loss

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong are virtually out of the 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament after suffering their third consecutive defeats in the group stage.

The latest one came last night as the SAR under-23 side, who finished the group B match against Malaysia with nine men, lost 1-0 at Mong Kok Stadium.

With half of the tournament gone, Hong Kong need a miracle to put themselves back in contention for the two places which will advance to the next round of qualification. Mohd Amirulhadi bin Zainal scored the only goal for Malaysia in the 25th minute when he broke through a hesitant Hong Kong defence from the midfield and beat goalkeeper Tse Tak-him with an a well-placed lob.

In the other group match, Japan beat Syria 3-0 in Tokyo last night to keep a 100 per cent record after three matches.

Hong Kong will now travel to Malaysia for the return leg in three weeks without striker Chan Siu-ki and midfielder Kwok Kin-pong, who were both given the marching orders by the Thai referee.

Chan's absence will further weaken Hong Kong's attacking power as they have yet to score a goal in all their three group matches.

'A player must learn how to control his temper on the pitch or it will ruin the team for any winning chance,' said Hong Kong coach Lai Sun-cheung.

'We were already one goal down and Chan's dismissal put the team in a much more difficult position.'

Chan was sent off for a second yellow card after his retaliation on Malaysia's Samransak Kram in the 65th minute while Kwok received a straight red for an attack on Ahmad Azlan bin Zainal in stoppage time. 'The Malaysians are very skilful and controlled the ball very well with good passes. We need to play at our best to beat them, but unfortunately it was not tonight,' said Lai.

Hong Kong's best chance came in the first half when Chan's header in the 36th minute went just wide of target.

Malaysian coach Satiananthan Bhaskran was still confident they can qualify for the next stage. 'We have two more home games against Hong Kong and Syria and if we win, anything can happen in the final match against Japan.'