We'll settle for a draw in Uzbekistan, says HK coach ahead of qualifier

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 June, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong would be happy with a draw when they take on home side Uzbekistan in the 2012 London Olympics Asian zone qualifying tournament in Tashkent today.

'It's always difficult in an away match,' said coach Liu Chun-fai, who left with the Under-23 squad for the Central Asian state on Wednesday to acclimatise.

'We have to play against a good side, against the fans, against the weather. It would not be a bad result if we can return with a draw and beat them in the home match.'

Hong Kong beat Maldives 7-0 on aggregate in preliminary round one to set up a clash against the former Soviet Union state in a two-leg second round match. The return leg will take place at the Hong Kong Stadium on Thursday.

Liu only took up the job two weeks ago after interim coach Tsang Wai-chung quit due to personal problems. But the former Hong Kong international is no stranger to the team, working as assistant to South Korean Kim Pan-gon, the Hong Kong team coach from 2009 to 2010.

'I know the players well as I have worked with them before at either club or international level,' said Liu, who quit as South China assistant team manager for the job. 'We also have assistant coaches who have been taking care of the team since it was set up.

'Against the home team, we need to defend well as Uzbekistan will certainly put everything into attack. But I have studied some video of their play and they are not very strong in defence. If we can hold them, we will have a chance to score with fast counter attacks.

'But of course a draw will be an ideal result in the away match.'

With few injury problems, Hong Kong will be able to start with a full team featuring players with First Division experience such as Yapp Hung-fai, Lau Nim-yat, Yeung Chi-lun, Chak Ting-fung, Au Yeung Yiu-chung and To Hon-to.

The match at Jar Stadium kicks off in the evening to avoid the stifling heat of the day, Liu said.