Hong Kong will have to prove their encouraging game against Australia was not just a flash in the pan as they start afresh in the 2013 East Asian Cup qualifiers today against Taiwan.
Home fans now have raised hopes for the Taiwan match at Hong Kong Stadium after more than 4,000 of them witnessed a close fight against the Socceroos on Monday, which the visitors won 1-0. Australia are among the top teams in the region with a world ranking of 33, compared with Hong Kong's 172.
"We want to show the fans our last game was not just about luck," said coach Kim Pan-gon. "Hong Kong are a very good team and I strongly believe my players can do the job again."
Taiwan have hardly impressed in the tournament so far, losing 6-1 to North Korea in their opening match and needing a stoppage-time goal to force a 1-1 draw with Guam on Wednesday. They also lost 5-1 to Hong Kong when the two last met in a friendly at Mong Kok Stadium in March.
But Kim said he was not expecting his players to produce a big win. "We were under great pressure to score more goals against Guam in our opening match, which had affected the players' performance," said the coach. "Against Taiwan, I won't give them any goal targets. If they work hard, the results will come."
Striker Chan Siu-ki, who scored a hat-trick against Taiwan in March, called for the support of the fans.
"There was huge crowd support for us against Australia and we want them to turn out again [today]," said Chan. "Taiwan's coach has said the match against Hong Kong will be their primary target of the tournament and we welcome that because it means they won't just stay in defence, giving us more space for attack."
Guam, meanwhile, will feature against Australia today with the Socceroos needing a big win to close North Korea's goal-difference advantage.