Hong Kong's London Olympic Games qualifying campaign got off to a winning start last night when they beat the Maldives 4-0.
Tai Po forward To Hon-to had a dream start in the first-round match.
He found the net just 25 seconds into the game when he headed home a cross from Tam Lok-hin. But Hong Kong had to wait until after the break before finding the net three more times to register an emphatic victory in front of 1,500 home fans at Hong Kong Stadium.
'The result was better than we had expected,' coach Tsang Wai-chung said. 'But the boys kept trying hard and the Maldives started to run out of energy in the final stages.'
Tsang, who will be leading the team for the last time when they travel to the Indian Ocean nation in two weeks for the return leg, said they still had plenty of work to do if they wanted to reach the next round.
'We will need to play clever football, stay focused and conserve our energy because it will be hot in the Maldives,' he said. 'Our target is to keep a clean sheet.'
To, who missed an easy chance to double the lead midway through the first half, said the team did not lose their composure.
But it was 60 minutes before Yuen Tsun-nam headed home from a corner. Second-half substitute James Ha then added to the tally with a powerful shot from 30 metres out before To put the icing on the cake in the closing stages with his second goal of the night.
'We were in control of the match and sometimes you have to be patient for the chances to come,' said To. 'I'm happy we won so convincingly ... it makes the return leg much easier.'