SOCCER: INTERPORT CUP

We can finish the job against Guangdong, says Hong Kong captain Tan

Teenage skipper remains upbeat his young upstarts can finish the job in the second leg of the annual interport against Guangdong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 January, 2016, 11:25pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 January, 2016, 1:16am

Captain Tan Chun-lok has urged his young upstarts to “finish the job” as they take on home side Guangdong in the second leg of the annual Interport Cup on Sunday.

Tan remained upbeat that Hong Kong’s young lions can lift the trophy for the first time in three years having forced a 1-1 draw against the powerful visitors on Thursday night.

We feel more confident after the first leg despite facing a bigger challenge of playing away
Tan Chun-lok

The 19-year-old Tan excelled in the first leg at Mong Kok Stadium and feels his side have enough in them to beat their strong neighbours even though they would need to lift their game at the People’s Stadium in Guangzhou.

“We feel more confident after the first leg despite facing a bigger challenge of playing away,” said Tan. “It’s not easy going through a tough 90 minutes just two days ago and then playing again. Our legs feel heavy but our opponents are probably feeling the same.

“If we can hang in there and really display strong determination, we can beat our opponents, we can be successful.”

The youngster said donning the Hong Kong team jersey gives him additional strength.

“It’s an honour playing for the Hong Kong team and I treasure every moment – from the World Cup qualifiers to the Interport Cup. It’s an recognition of your hard work and I always try to push harder on the field,” he said.

Hong Kong coach Liu Chun-fai said Tan deserved to retain his captain’s armband after leading by example and playing an exceptional first leg.

“He has a strong character, both on and off the field and is a role model for the new generation of players,” said the coach. “He will continue to lead the team. I have full confidence in him.”

The coach said centre half Leung Nok-hang has suffered tight thigh muscles from the first leg and would probably be replaced by his elder brother, Leung Kwun-chung, in defence. Veteran Manoel dos Santos, who made his Hong Kong debut in the first leg at 35 years of age, will continue to play an attacking role in midfield.

The tournament, which is celebrating its 38th anniversary, regains a high profile after the authorities decided to move it back from Huizhou City after three years in the provincial capital.

Coupled with the recent thrilling results between Hong Kong and China in the World Cup qualifiers, many of the home fans at the 15,000-seat venue will treat the match as a revenge match.