Abel promises HK will be wary of Lion City

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong will be hoping they can stitch together two halves in games against Japan and South Korea and come up with a complete performance against Singapore in a must-win encounter in the HSBC Asian Five Nations at Football Club today.

For the first 35 minutes against Japan, and the second 40 minutes against South Korea, Hong Kong looked the part. But inconsistency has been a bugbear for the home team who know it is win-or-bust time as a defeat could put their 2011 World Cup qualifying plans in jeopardy.

Defeat is unthinkable. Hong Kong have an 8-2 win-loss record against Singapore, with the last defeat (12-10) being 10 years ago. Since then they have won six on the trot, with the last meeting in 2004 ending in a 47-14 victory.

Despite the weight of history on Hong Kong's side, skipper Jon Abel prefers to dwell on the present and has warned his peers nothing can be taken for granted.

'Singapore played well against Kazakhstan last week and cannot be taken lightly,' Abel (pictured) said. 'Some might be thinking ahead to beating Kazakhstan next week and finishing second, but I hope there is the maturity among our guys to take it one game at a time.' Singapore narrowly lost 22-19 to Kazakhstan last week and will be fired up for today's encounter. Like Hong Kong, they know defeat could result in relegation from the elite division, which will act as the Asian World Cup qualifiers.

'This is a must-win game for us. If we don't win, it could be the end of our hopes of playing in the 2011 World Cup qualifiers,' hooker Abel said.

Hong Kong have lost their opening games, 59-6 to Japan and 36-34 to Korea last week in Incheon. But with the two hardest games out of the way, the mood in the camp is ebullient.

'We hope to build on what we have achieved over the past two weeks,' Abel said.

Hong Kong will have two new faces in the starting line-up - lock Angus Washington getting his first start, and inside centre Simon Hempel returning after being on paternity duty last week by the side of his wife who gave birth to their first child.

'There is no weak link in the squad. We have 29 players, all of whom can start. It is a fantastic situation for the coaching staff to be in,' said Abel.

Hong Kong will have to back his words with a credible performance. They must win and win well - with a bonus point for scoring four tries.