Doha mission: Hong Kong must achieve ‘a result’ against Qatar or draws with China will count for nothing
Coach Kim Pan-gon tells his charges to bring it on with one last effort against group C favourites to keep their World Cup dream alive
Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon has warned his charges their good work against China will all come to nothing if they fail to get a result – either a draw or victory – against Qatar in their last World Cup qualifying match on Thursday.
Kim left for Doha with his 22-member squad on Monday night knowing they need at least one point in their latest qualifying match if they are going to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Having twice held China to goalless draws, Hong Kong are still in contention with one match left as they are currently second in group C with a surprising three-point lead over the mainlanders.
But the advantage could be nullified as China, who have a big advantage on goal difference, are likely to beat Maldives in another match on the same night. They host Qatar at home in their last group match next week.
“We have to get at least one point and of course it would be even better if we can return with a victory,” said Kim after Hong Kong’s only practice session at Sai Tso Wan before their departure.
“Qatar are very strong with a lot of quality players and as a team they are also very good with their attacking soccer. We know it’s not going to be easy, especially playing on their home ground, but the players have already done a great job so far and I hope they can keep up the good work with one last effort.”
Qatar beat Hong Kong 3-2 at Mong Kok Stadium when they met in September.
The coach said his biggest worry going into the Doha match is that they have had only one training session due to the hectic domestic schedule and the AFC Cup commitments for the two leading clubs, South China and Kitchee.
“We have tried to obtain as much information on the Qatar players as possible over the last couple of weeks so that they can have a better understanding of our opponents,” said Kim. “But we have already some basic formation after playing seven games together [in the group] and only need to consider the arrival of some new faces.”
Kim hopes forward Manoel da Silva, now playing in the China League One, will strengthen their firing line as a newcomer while the arrival of centre defenders, Andy Russell and Roberto Affonso Junior will be able to fill for regular defenders Chan Wai-ho, Jean Kilama and Helio Goncalves, who will miss the game either through suspension or injury.
A hefty HK$650,000 bonus will awarded to the Hong Kong team if they beat Qatar.