Hong Kong's young players impress on their debuts in Interport Cup
It was a case of mission half-accomplished for coach Kim Pan-gon as Hong Kong lost 3-2 to Guangdong in the opening leg of the annual Interport Cup soccer clash at Mong Kok Stadium on Sunday.
He achieved his prematch objective of blooding several youngsters in the narrow defeat where the winner was scored in stoppage time, but now his charges face a tough task in the return leg in Huizhou on Wednesday
Fong Pak-lun and Tsang Chi-hau, who impressed in the under-23 side at the recent East Asian Games, were given the chance to make their full international debuts in the starting line-up, while three other youngsters, Che Runqin, Cheung Chi-yung and Ip Chong-long, were also phased into the match after the break.
"For the sake of the long-term development of the team, I had to take this bold step of fielding the youngsters," said Pang. "I am sure they have gained a lot of experience although we will have to study the video footage before we decide whether to give them the same opportunity in the away leg."
Fong, 20, admitted he was a bit nervous in the opening stages after losing the ball several times, but gradually adjusted to the pace of the high-tempo match and assisted in striker Chan Siu-ki's goal.
"This is a good start and I am confident of making progress in my international career," said the Yokohama FC left back. "We have learned a lot and although we have to travel to Huizhou for the second leg, we are confident of making up the one-goal deficit."
Featuring mainly players from Chinese First Division side Guangdong Sunray Cave, the visitors silenced the 3,500-strong crowd with two goals in the opening 10 minutes, from Cui Ning and Huang Hauxuan.
The home team pushed hard to get back into the match. Striker Chan, who played for the visitors in the Chinese league last season, had a number of chances and finally broke through in the 39th minute, finishing off Fong's accurate cross from the left. Ju Yingzhi added the equaliser just before half-time with a powerful low drive from 25 metres out.
The second half was closely contested, but a nice passing movement involving four Guangdong players finally saw Lu Lin finish off with the match-winner.