Captain rues what might have been after players let slip World Cup dream
The disappointment of failing to make it through to the next round of World Cup qualifying still hangs around like a bad smell for Hong Kong captain Simon Leung Ho-yam. Leung (pictured) said the crucial moments occurred when Hong Kong failed to put away Kazakhstan after leading 14-6 at half-time, and then struggled in the scrum against the Arabian Gulf.
'We should have gone to Japan with the result [qualifying for the next stage] already in the bag,' Leung said. 'But we left ourselves with too much to do.
'We should never have lost to the Arabian Gulf and we should never have allowed Kazakhstan back into the match.'
Poor scrimmaging, which resulted in Hong Kong losing six of their own set pieces, gave the Arabian Gulf the upper hand in Bahrain resulting in a 16-9 loss.
The following week Hong Kong spurned a host of chances against Kazakhstan in the first-half when poor handling saw them fail to convert possession and territory into points.
That game at home was the bigger disappointment as Kazakhstan snatched a vital bonus point in the 19-15 loss. This proved crucial in the end as Kazakhstan edged Hong Kong to second place and a berth in the play-off against Uruguay.
'We had an opportunity to make history, but we didn't take it,' Leung said. 'It is really disappointing, but still the future looks bright if we can continue to progress as a team.'