Old guard absent from Asia Cup squad

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2007, 12:00am

Two Ali brothers and former captain Farooq Saeed will be among a large number of the old brigade missing from a new-look Hong Kong team at the men's Asia Cup to be played in Chennai, India, from August 31-September 9.

Hotshot striker Asghar Ali and veteran defender Saeed, both retired, are two of the biggest names absent as Hong Kong prepare to take on Asia's best in the 10-day tournament. Midfielder Asif Ali is also unavailable, leaving only two Ali siblings in the national team - captain Akbar Ali and Arif Ali.

Asghar, Asif and Saeed are among eight players missing from the Asian Games squad that featured in Doha last December, leaving coach Simon Chapman with a largely inexperienced team. Saeed will, however, be around as manager of the squad.

'It will be a big challenge. We are missing a number of players from the Asian Games squad, most of who have either retired or are unavailable due to work and other commitments. But this will give the younger guys who have been waiting in the wings the opportunity to make a mark,' Chapman said.

'We are in a state of transition and rebuilding. It is a wonderful chance for the youngsters as we build up towards the 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong and the Asian Games the following year in Guangzhou,' Chapman added.

Hong Kong are grouped with Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore in pool A. Apart from Singapore, Hong Kong faced the same teams in Doha and lost each time.

The other pool comprises South Korea, India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, the 10-team women's Asia Cup will be held in Hong Kong from September 1-9.

Hong Kong Squad

Akbar Ali (captain, pictured), Arif Ali, Harinder Singh Bal, Ben Chiu*, Chan Ka-ho*, Jasbir Singh Chhina, Ng Shiu-bong, Fan Cheuk-ming*, Kieran Smith*, Feroz Khan*, Guruvinder Dillon, Yip Chuen-chau, Wong Shun-him, Aman Dillon*, Lai Hik-ming, Swalikh Mohammad, Alun Southwood*, Rashid Mehmood*. Simon Chapman (coach, pictured), Alfonso Cordeiro (assistant coach), Farooq Saeed (manager).

*denotes players making debut.

Youthful look

Number of uncapped players in Hong Kong's squad for the men's Asia Cup in Chennai, India: 8