Young guns will be chosen at last minute for Paraguay friendly

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai-chung will wait until the last minute before determining which of his Asian Games stars will take to the field for the AET Cup friendly with Paraguay at Hong Kong Stadium tonight.

Four of Tsang's squad for the meeting with the South Americans - who reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Africa in June - helped the young team reach the second round in Guangzhou.

Central defender Chan Wai-ho will not start due to injury, but Lee Chi-ho, Kwok Kin-pong and Lo Kwan-yee could all play roles against Gerardo Martino's team.

'Of the four players from the Asian Games, I believe one or two will be the first choice, but I will discuss this with my assistants before we pick the team,' Tsang said. 'Chan Wai-ho has a neck problem and didn't sleep very well the other night and I believe he will start on the bench. I hope we can play good football to show the fans how far we can go, but I would like to use all six substitutes.'

Hong Kong's involvement in the Asian Games ended on Monday night when the team - made up predominantly of players under the age of 23 - were eliminated by Oman, meaning Tsang has not been able to spend much time with the full national squad. But the 50-year-old still believes his side have been able to prepare more thoroughly than the Paraguayans, who only arrived in Hong Kong on Monday.

'I think our preparations have probably been better than Paraguay because all their players play in different countries and they had to fly a long way to get here.'

His impression was backed up by Martino, who said that his side's build-up could have been better. 'The players have just arrived, so maybe the preparation isn't so good,' said the Argentinian, who has stayed coach after Paraguay's best performance at a World Cup.

The player who will undoubtedly attract the most attention is Manchester City forward Roque Santa Cruz. The former Bayern Munich and Blackburn Rovers forward has endured a difficult season in the Premier League, rarely figuring as Roberto Mancini has continually overlooked his claims for a place in the starting line-up.

As a result, Santa Cruz is hoping the match-up with Hong Kong will give him some much-needed time on the pitch as he battles to improve his fitness ahead of a potential move away from the City of Manchester Stadium in January.

'I haven't been injured, the reason I just haven't been playing was because of the decisions of the manager,' the 29-year-old said.

'This is a great chance to enjoy the game and play again and to get some match fitness. I'm not thinking too much about me being in the window from January, even though I expect to move. 'I will just try to enjoy this game and do my best and that's the main reason I came to Hong Kong.'