Leung honoured by place in squad

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 August, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon has defended his decision to include youngster Hinson Leung Cheuk-hin in his squad for the East Asian Championships qualifiers, which begin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Sunday.

The 21-year-old, who has yet to play for his team, South China, in the First Division, is part of an 18-member squad for the four-team tournament, which also includes North Korea, Guam and hosts Taiwan.

'We want to give young players an opportunity at international level,' said South Korean Kim. 'We do the same thing in South Korea; even the World Cup finals squad features some youngsters who have never played in the tournament.

'Leung has the potential to be a top player, and that's why we're taking him with us. We need to groom the youngsters and not always rely on more experienced players.'

Leung admitted he was included in the squad only because he is a South China player. 'It is a great honour for me to represent Hong Kong,' he said. 'But I know this would not have happened if I was not playing for South China.

'I will treasure the opportunity and learn as much as possible.'

Leung played for South China only once last season, when he came on as a substitute in the home match against VB of Maldives in the AFC Cup preliminaries.

Hong Kong will play Taiwan on Sunday before taking on favourites North Korea next Tuesday.

'I know North Korea will be sending their top players to Taiwan, and therefore it will be very tough for the rest of us,' Kim said.

Meanwhile, South China striker Jose Castillo could be on his way home. The Bolivia international, who arrived in Hong Kong on August 2, came out as a second-half substitute against Kitchee in the Community Shield on Monday. But his poor performance failed to impress the management as South China lost 2-0.