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2018 Fifa World Cup Asian qualifying

Coach: I don't care where our footballers were born - as long they do the business for Hong Kong

Coach hits out at criticisms, with nearly half his squad for crucial World Cup soccer qualifiers against the Maldives and China originally from Africa or Brazil

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 1:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 10:32pm

Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon has made results his priority, with almost half of his squad for crucial World Cup soccer qualifiers against the Maldives and China containing naturalised players.

Of the 24-member preliminary squad announced on Tuesday, nine players have changed their nationality to represent Hong Kong, including the four Kitchee players who obtained their SAR passports over the past two weeks. Most are originally from Africa or Brazil.

I have a clear picture that Hong Kong have to call up the best players for the World Cup qualifiers
Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon 

The four Kitchee players are forwards Alex Akande, Paulo Carreiro, Sandro and defender Helio Goncalves. 

READ MORE: Hong Kong football fans betrayed as fear of offending motherland shuts them out of home derby against China

Veteran striker Chan Siu-ki said on social media: "Why the young local players have to train hard and for what?"

And indeed youngsters Lee Ka-yiu, Tan Chun-lok, Lo Kong-wai and Lam Hok-hei have been dropped from the squad, which will be reduced to 23 players.

Kim defended his decision, saying only results mattered and there should be no prejudice towards naturalised players.

"I have a clear picture that Hong Kong have to call up the best players for the World Cup qualifiers as this is not a tournament for [young players] to improve in," said Kim.

Hong Kong play Myanmar in a friendly on Saturday but forward Godfred Karikari is out because of a thigh injury.

Meanwhile, fans were lining up outside Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday for concessionary tickets for the November 17 China match. Tickets go on sale at 10am today at Cityline and the stadium box office.