Australia top standings as Hong Kong finish third in East Asian Cup qualifiers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 2:44am

Australia qualified for next year's East Asian Cup finals on goal difference yesterday, edging out North Korea at Hong Kong Stadium.

With North Korea beating Hong Kong 4-0 in yesterday's first match, the Australians, level on points and goal difference with the Koreans at the start of the day, had a clear target against Taiwan.

Their mission was completed early as they banged in five goals in the first half, finishing 8-0 winners.

"I feel sorry we could not score more goals in the first two matches against Guam and Taiwan," said North Korea coach Yun Jong-su. "The overall result is a bit lower than our expectations as we've failed to reach the finals."

Australia, who are playing in the East Asian Cup for the first time, join Japan, South Korea and China in July's finals. "It is a welcome opportunity for me to see some of the boys building for the future as our priority is to qualify for the World Cup finals," said coach Holger Osieck.

Hong Kong caretaker coach Kim Pan-gon was disappointed by his team's performance, which saw them finish third overall.

"The 4-0 score was not really acceptable," he said. "We made mistakes in some crucial moments during the first half.

"The second half was better and we created a few scoring chances. The players also showed strong mental strength to hang in there, but it was still not good enough."

Kim said the players had to improve their physical fitness and create better understanding among themselves as Hong Kong prepare for the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers, the first match of which is in February.

"We have two months to prepare, which is hardly sufficient," he said. "But the players have learnt a lot through this tournament."

Striker Chan Siu-ki, who was confronted by a disgruntled fan at the end of the match, said Kim could handle the job on a long-term basis. "He has been here long enough and knows the players well," said the Sunray Cave player.