Soccer team on cusp of quarter-finals surprise

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 November, 2010, 12:00am

A win over Oman at Huangpu Stadium tonight will put Hong Kong into the quarter-finals of the soccer tournament, a result that would far exceed pre-Games expectations.

'Our team spirit is high, the players are in good form and we are looking for another moment of legend for Hong Kong,' coach Tsang Wai-chung said.

'Oman are the better side, but no one can dismiss us. Simply check the way we played against the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan and you will know how good we are against better teams.'

A rejuvenated Hong Kong team achieved a breakthrough when they won gold at the East Asian Games as the hosts last year, and Tsang has vowed to build on that success in Guangzhou.

The coach and his staff have been studying video tapes of their opponents as they prepare for the crunch encounter.

'They are fast in attack, very aggressive, like the UAE, but in general their personal skills may not be as good as those of the UAE players,' Tsang said.

'We will take an effective counter-attack approach which has proved to be very successful in the tournament so far. But we won't just stay at the back.

'Instead, we will push the defence line forward so that the players can interrupt their rhythm as early as possible. The players are very fit and we are confident of achieving the win.'

There could be a bonus as victory over Oman would mean they reach the Sports Institute's elite training grants 'C standard' and get another year of subvention from the Sports Institute - valued at about HK$6,000 per player per month - from April next year.

Players who helped Hong Kong win the East Asian Games gold medal last December are getting the support, which is due for reassessment in March.

Hong Kong will retain a similar line-up to the one that proved so successful in the group stage.

The only uncertainty is left-back Chak Ting-fung who suffered a broken nose in the match against Uzbekistan.

If Chak fails a fitness test today, he will be replaced by Kwok Kin-pong, with Chan Man-fai taking Kwok's position on the left.

To get more crowd support, the HKFA have requested 300 tickets from the organisers to be distributed to Hong Kong fans.