Vietnam present sterner test for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 3:36am

Hong Kong need nothing less than a victory against visitors Vietnam to keep their hopes alive in the Asian Cup qualifiers.

Despite a convincing away draw against Uzbekistan in their group E opener, their first real test comes tonight at Mong Kok Stadium.

"It's always important to secure points in home games at international level," said forward Chan Man-fai. "We had a good performance against Uzbekistan, but all that effort will be wasted if we don't beat Vietnam."

The 24-year-old will replace injured striker Chan Siu-ki after the latter was not released by his Guangdong-based China First Division club Sunray Cave.

"I don't feel any pressure," he said after training at Mong Kok last night. "I played the same position against Australia in the East Asian Cup qualifiers and I just have to deliver a similar job."

The Kitchee player scored both goals in their league clash against Tai Po over the weekend. "We played Vietnam teams in the AFC Cup and they are fast and skilful, but our morale is high after the Uzbekistan draw."

More than 1,000 tickets have already been sold for the match and skipper Chan Wai-ho has appealed for strong fan support. He also hopes a victory over the visitors can boost their confidence for future clashes against Southeast Asian nations. "We have not achieved good results against teams like Thailand and Malaysia and we want to change starting from this game," he said.

Coach Kim Pan-gon said Hong Kong had improved a lot since they lost 2-1 to Vietnam in an international friendly in June. "We are looking forward to some good performances and there will be something different this time," said the coach.

Vietnam coach Hoang Van Phuc said they had brought a mix of young and experienced players in preparation for the SEA Games at the end of the year, but their target was still victory.

The team also boast two members playing in the Czech Republic - defender Michal Nguyen and striker Mac Hong Quan.