Local squad aim to book place at Asian Games

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 February, 2006, 12:00am

Youth will carry Hong Kong's hopes when the national rugby team aim to qualify for the 2006 Asian Games tomorrow.

Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Singapore will battle for one place at the four-yearly showpiece in Doha, Qatar, in a qualifying tournament at Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC).

The teams will play a round-robin competition, with the top two clashing in the final to decide who will advance to the eight-nation field at the Games in December.

Hong Kong fielded a young squad mainly comprising local players at recent tournaments in Singapore, Sri Lanka and Dubai, with the dual aim of long-term development and qualifying for the Asiad.

Regular squad members, such as Nigel D'Acre, Alex Zenovic, Andrew Chambers, Paul Morehu and Justin Gregory, have been omitted because they do not qualify for the Qatar event - they were not born in Hong Kong nor do they have Asian parentage.

HKFC winger Alex Gibbs will captain the side, whose sole objective will be to win the four-team tournament and book the solitary berth available for the region's biggest sporting extravaganza.

The youthful squad performed well against top professional teams at the Dubai Invitational Sevens recently. Now Gibbs wants them to take the next step, and win a competition.

'One of the things we said at the end of the Dubai tournament was that we've been together for a while now and it's time for us to develop some belief and get a winning culture going,' said Gibbs.

'We've been going to tournaments and doing well, but we always seem to get knocked out at the quarter-final stage and always by a good team. Well, I think we're ready to start beating some of these teams.

'We've come close a couple of times but haven't got there. It's time we looked within ourselves and started to believe we can do it - because we definitely can.'

Hong Kong squad: Alex Gibbs (captain), Michael Lo Kwok-wai, Fan Shun-kei, Tsang Hing-hung, Kwok Ka-chun, Andy Yuen Kin-ho, Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin, Ben Ho Tsz-chun, Chan Yiu-yu, Kenzo Parnell, Jeff Wong, Mark Wright.