Hong Kong frustrates Uzbekistan with draw in Asian Cup qualifying game
A determined 10-man Hong Kong team held home side Uzbekistan to a goalless draw yesterday in a fine start to their 2015 Asian Cup qualifying campaign.
Despite a squad of only 18 and reduced practice sessions and training matches in a troubled build-up, Hong Kong did superbly well to frustrate Uzbekistan, one of the favourites from Asia to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals.
The group E match at Pakhtakor Stadium, Tashkent, fully reflected the gulf between the two sides as world number 163 Hong Kong had to dig deep to defend from the first minute against the home team, ranked 56th.
But despite a couple of dangerous moments when Uzbekistan came close, and having to play much of the second half with 10 men after right-back Lo Kwan-yee was sent off for a straight red card, Hong Kong survived.
The Kitchee defender denied Ulugbek Bakayev a goalscoring opportunity after keeper Yapp Hung-fai put the defence under pressure with a poor goal kick. Lo will now miss the two next home games against Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE head the four-team group after they won 2-1 in Vietnam last night.
"It was a difficult game, but we were able to perform well and stick to the instruction of the coach," said captain Chan Wai-ho. "Although we went down to 10 men in the second half, every player battled hard to make up the deficit and we deserved it."
Though Hong Kong also had to thank poor finishing from the hosts, they almost created a major upset when second half substitute Lam Hok-hei broke clean through with only the keeper to beat on the counter attack, a poor touch allowed Ignatiy Nesterov to clear.