Alex Akande scores four as Hong Kong beat Taiwan 4-2 to set up North Korea showdown

The striker scores for the fourth straight match with the home side just one win from qualifying for the EAFF Championship finals in Japan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 11:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 11:49pm

Striker Alex Akande scored four emphatic goals to lead Hong Kong to a 4-2 victory over Taiwan as the home side continued their fine run in the EAFF Championships second round – with a crucial showdown with North Korea looming.

Hong Kong and North Korea have perfect winning records after two games, but the North Koreans, who defeated Guam 2-0 in an earlier match at Mong Kok Stadium, lead the table with a better goal difference.

On a night when the home fans continued to boo the China national anthem before the kick off, Akande’s contribution made the difference as he helped Hong Kong move up a gear after Taiwan briefly closed the gap to 2-1 shortly after the break, with former Pegasus player Chen Po-liang scoring with a header after a corner kick.

The naturalised player added two more goals, both almost identical, as he headed home crosses by Xu Deshuai to make sure of victory.

Akande, who plays for champions Kitchee, said it was amazing to score four goals in a match.

I will try my best but this is not the challenge for one person, this is for the team. I am just one member of the team. If I don’t score, but other players score, it will be fine
Alex Akande

“The result just made everything amazing. Oh my God, you have scored four goals!” said the striker, who also hit four when playing for former club Tai Chung. “But this is not the biggest moment. This is just one of the moments. I have been doing well for many years and I want to keep improving.”

The 27 year-old would not say if he could score against North Korea.

“I don’t want to put myself under pressure,” he said. “I will try my best but this is not the challenge for one person, this is for the team. I am just one member of the team. If I don’t score, but other players score, it will be fine.”

The striker also urged the support of the fans for Saturday’s match.

“I hope the fans will keep supporting us as the last game is very important. We need this game and we need every people behind us,” he said.

His goals thrilled the 3,300 fans who kept chanting “beating North Korea” before leaving the venue. Chen Chao-an scored a consolation goal for the visitors.

The last Hong Kong player to score four goals in an international game was Chan Siu-ki in the same tournament in a 12-0 victory over Guam in Taiwan in 2009. Chan came on as a second-half substitute against Taiwan but was unable to score.

Hong Kong head coach Kim Pan-gon congratulated the striker with Akande now scoring in all his past four games for Hong Kong.

“He has the smell of goal and knows where to find the net,” said the coach. “He has the explosive power up front and although he has now played two full games in a row, I cannot take him out as we need his goalscoring power. Hopefully he can score again in the next match.”

Kim was proud of his charges as they now have built up sufficient confidence to carry them through to the final.

“If we win [against North Korea], we can go there,” he said. “Our team now seems very strong and we do not fear North Korea.

“But our defence still needs a lot of improvement because again we conceded a goal to Taiwan through a set-piece.

“North Korea also scored both goals against Guam through set-pieces and seem to be very strong here. We did a good job against China in set-pieces in the World Cup qualifiers. Let’s find out what happened and discuss with the players to avoid a similar thing against North Korea.”

North Korea coach Kim Dong-min was delighted with the result, although their top striker Pak Kwang-ryong was still far from his best in his first match.

Pak, who plays for Lausanne in the Swiss Super League, only arrived in Hong Kong this week and missed their opening game against Taiwan.

“Guam defended very well but our players played calmly according to our plan,” he said. “We have now scored two wins with six points and just need one more win to reach the final in Japan.

“The players are in very good condition, good physical and mental strength and psychologically and technically are prepared to reach the final.”