SOCCER

Kim Pan-gon slams players as Hong Kong struggle against Guam

Kim Pan-gon says the home players failed to use their brains against a side they defeated 12-0 three years ago in the same tournament

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 4:27am

Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon read the riot act to his players after a poor performance saw them eke out a 2-1 win against Guam in the opening match of the East Asian Cup qualifiers at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday.

Three years ago, in the same tournament in Taiwan, Hong Kong thrashed Guam 12-0.

"We should have dominated the match with our passing game, but it never happened," said Kim, the caretaker coach who replaced Australian Ernie Merrick four weeks ago. "If we want to play better, we have to use our brains. Our execution was simply too poor.

"Guam, though, are a different side from three years ago. They're physically stronger and, unlike us, they use their brains. There's no doubt they've made tremendous progress. It's too bad we have not."

Cheered on by a home crowd of 3,000, Hong Kong got off to the perfect start when striker Chan Siu-ki found the target from a Lam Hok-hei cross after just 80 seconds. And it did not take too long before the prolific striker netted again. This time, on 17 minutes, he headed home a pass from Jaimes McKee. But that was the best Hong Kong could offer with centre half Chan Wai-ho coming closest to adding to the tally when his header hit the post shortly after the interval.

The visitors scored through Elias Merfalen 11 minutes after the break. Ryan Guy, who plays for Major League Soccer side New England Revolution, stole the ball from Lee Chi-ho and crossed for Merfalen to score.

"If not for Chan Siu-ki we would have been in big trouble," said Kim. "He had two chances and scored twice. Whenever a striker has a chance, he should put the ball in the back of the net. Some of our other players also had chances, but they just could not deliver. This is why Chan Siu-ki is so important to the team.

"I feel he has become a more mature player. He's certainly playing with a lot more confidence since joining a team on the mainland. This is very fortunate for Hong Kong."

Chan, who has now scored 34 international goals for Hong Kong - 18 against Guam in four matches - was unhappy with the result. "We surrendered the midfield and our overall performance was not too good," said the 27-year-old, who plays for Chinese First Division side Sunray Cave. "But this game's over and now we have to prepare our next match against Australia."

Kim said the team must raise their game against the Australians, who are led by former Blackburn Rover midfielder Brett Emerton. The coach promised it would be a different match against a team who are ranked 33rd in the world. "We definitely have to move up a gear," he said.

In yesterday's other match, North Korea - who reached the World Cup finals in 2010 - thrashed Taiwan 6-1.