More China anthem booing but Hong Kong coach happy with result after 3-2 win over Guam
Kim Pan-gon praises his side despite allowing the visitors to fight back from a 3-0 deficit in their East Asian championship second-round match
Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon said he had no complaints after his players survived a scare from minnows Guam to score a narrow 3-2 victory in the East Asian Football Association (EAFF) championship second round.
On a chilly Sunday evening when some home fans again booed the China national anthem before kick-off, Hong Kong looked set for a comfortable victory after taking a three-goal lead, with Sandro missing the chance to make it 4-0 when his penalty hit the post.
The visitors, anyway, had only about 20 minutes to make up the deficit but the unlikely battlers came close with two late goals to give the crowd of 3,300 a few nervous moments.
“The performance was good until the last moment and the fighting spirit was unbelievable under pressure. I can’t ask for more from the boys despite losing two late goals by set pieces in the closing stages,” said Kim. “We might have won by five goals but they played 120 per cent to come back and they did very well.
“I didn’t want to see this happen as we know it’s important to have a good goal difference in the tournament but the players did their best to overcome some very difficult circumstances. We need a positive approach if we want to qualify for the final next year.”
Hong Kong will meet Taiwan in their next match on Wednesday and victory will give them a strong boost before their showdown against North Korea on the final day.
The Koreans won 2-0 over Taiwan in the other match but the tournament favourites needed a late goal to make sure of victory, with Taiwan always looking like they could score with the help of four players who ply their trade in China.
“Some of their individual players impressed me and played their best game against North Korea,” said Kim of the Taiwan threat. “We need to find out our ideal line-up for the game through rotation and fortunately we have a good squad of 20 players and every one of them can play.”
Kim said priority was to give his players time to recover over the next three days.
“We need to improve our fitness because we are in the middle of the season and most players had matches last week,” he said. “The mainland-based players need condition work because their season is over and this was their first game in three weeks.”
Hong Kong earned a two-goal cushion within four minutes midway through the first half as Alex Akande headed home a pass from Lam Ka-wai.
Sandro added to the tally with a powerful volley following a cross from Godfred Karikari. The Brazilian then missed a penalty early in the second half, but Akande made no mistake from the spot on 68 minutes.
Jason Cunliffe then headed home a throw-in for the visitors before Shane Malcolm connected with a free-kick to close the gap to one goal. But that was the best they could do despite putting the home side under pressure in the late stages.