Hong Kong skipper Chan Wai-ho scores the winner against Vietnam

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 5:40am

A capacity crowd at Mong Kok Stadium witnessed Hong Kong's improbable 1-0 victory over Vietnam in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers last night.

Skipper Chan Wai-ho scored the only goal, heading home a Xu Deshuai free kick from the right with just three minutes remaining, leaving a packed crowd of 6,639 spectators in raptures.

That goal kept Hong Kong's hopes alive in the tournament after the hosts held Uzbekistan to a 0-0 draw in their previous group E game last month.

"I have played for Hong Kong a number of times in the Asian Cup qualifiers and this is the best-ever start to the tournament for us," said Chan, the central defender, who turns 31 next month.

"Although it is too early to talk about reaching the finals in Australia, we are now in a good position with four points from two games."

Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon paid tribute to Chan.

"He is always strong in set pieces and his standard is that of the top level in Asia," said the coach. "Tonight the players were mentally strong. We now have seven months to prepare for our next match and with the support of the fans, we will try to make history for Hong Kong."

[Chan] is always strong in set pieces and his standard is that of the top level in Asia
Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon

Hong Kong will play hosts to the United Arab Emirates - 2-1 winners over Uzbekistan last night- in October.

Substitute Lee Hong-lim narrowly missed his target midway through the second half, but Chan saved the night at the Mong Kok ground, which saw its first full-house since its renovation in 2011.

Vietnam coach Hoang Van Phuc said: "We played better in the first half. Compared to our last meeting [last June], Hong Kong have improved greatly," said the coach referring to Vietnam's 2-1 victory in the friendly. The UAE top group E on six points, with Hong Kong second on four.