We're not afraid of Australia, says Hong Kong skipper Chan
HK captain says the Socceroos might pose a severe test to the home side in a classic David v Goliath encounter, but they are still beatable
Hong Kong will face possibly their toughest task in the East Asian Cup qualifiers when they take on Australia in their second match at Mong Kok Stadium tonight.
With Hong Kong ranked 172nd in the world and Australia 33, it is no wonder many are calling it a David v Goliath match.
But the hosts, despite their less-than-impressive 2-1 win against minnows Guam in their opening encounter on Saturday, are not running scared. "We have to look at things positively," skipper Chan Wai-ho said yesterday. "Sure, we should have done better against Guam but this is football.
"But I can promise it is going to be a different story against Australia. This time we are the underdogs and this will only motivate us to put up a good fight."
Coach Kim Pan-gon said Hong Kong's weak point against Guam was the defence. "We will introduce some younger, fitter players against Australia," Kim said.
Striker Chan Siu-ki, who scored both goals against Guam, will not be in the starting line-up and will be replaced by youngster Chan Man-fai, while Kwok Kin-pong will be in charge of the left-back position. Chu Siu-kei and Lee Wai-lim, who both came on as substitutes in the first match, will get their chance to start against Australia. "Chan Siu-ki is still not 100 per cent fit and we want to save him for the matches still to come," said Kim.
Chan Man-fai, 24, is looking forward to the biggest match of his career. "This will be a great opportunity to test myself," the Kitchee player said. "We didn't play well against Guam, so we want to prove that we are much better than what the fans witnessed on Saturday."
Led by German coach Holger Osieck, the Australians are in confident mood as they attempt to qualify for the finals in their debut appearance in this tournament. Only one of the five competing teams will qualify for next year's finals in South Korea.
"We are well prepared," Osieck said. "We are here to compete and we always want to win."
Former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Brett Emerton, with 92 caps, will lead the team as he closes in on being the second Australian player behind Mark Schwarzer to win 100 caps.
Only six players in the squad have more than five caps, with eight - Terry Antonis, Ivan Franjic, Michael Marrone, Aaron Mooy, Mat Ryan, Matt Smith and Adam Taggart - in line to make their international debuts.
Today's other match will feature North Korea, who impressed with a 6-1 win over Taiwan on Saturday, taking on Guam.