Five-star Chan leads HK goal spree
Hong Kong made no mistake as they thrashed Guam 15-1 yesterday to reach the East Asian Championship preliminary round final in Macau.
The result took the SAR past Taiwan at the top of group B on goal difference after both teams collected four points from two matches.
Taiwan defeated Guam 10-0 in their opening match on Sunday and drew with Hong Kong 1-1 in the following match on Tuesday.
Hong Kong coach Lee Kin-wo was delighted with the result, especially considering the heat at the Macau Stadium, estimated to be more than 32 degrees Celsius.
'We were very focused as we knew our target was to win and score 11 goals,' said Lee, who is in charge of his first international tournament after being appointed coach last month.
'We had a bad game against Taiwan and were lucky to escape with a draw. But we certainly made improvement today against Guam, though the conditions again made it very difficult. Most of the players were exhausted at the end of the match. Guam were not a strong team, but still the result did not come cheaply because of the heat. But once we found our rhythm, I knew we would be able to score the number of goals we needed to qualify.'
Hong Kong will now meet group A winners North Korea, 7-1 victors over Macau in yesterday's other game, in the preliminary final on Sunday for the only outstanding spot in the championship in Chongqing, China next year. South Korea, Japan and hosts China are the three seeded teams for the four-team event.
The SAR will have to improve their shaky defence if they want to win against the North Koreans, who are spearheaded by marksman Jong Tae-se, the leading scorer at the tournament in Macau. He struck four yesterday, taking his tally to eight.
'North Korea have a very powerful strikeforce and our defence must pay full attention. I hope our defenders can improve their understanding within the next two days,' said Lee.
Guam scored their first goal in the tournament yesterday when Chris Mendiola intercepted a poor back pass by Man Pei-tak and beat outrushing goalkeeper Fan Chun-yip in the 34th minute.
Other than that lapse, though, the Pacific Islanders were never close to troubling the SAR side. After the disappointing draw against Taiwan, Hong Kong were more focused against Guam. They opened the scoring after five minutes and built a 9-1 lead by half-time. They were especially grateful to Kitchee striker Chan Siu-ki, who netted five goals before he was substituted in the 60th minute.
'We all shared the same mission - to win and score as many goals as possible,' said Chan, who picked up six goals when they defeated Guam 15-0 in the same tournament two years ago. 'But it was just too hot out there and that affected our performance to a certain extent.'