AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifying

Youngster Wong Tsz-ho part of Kim Pan-gon’s plans to revitalise Hong Kong squad

The 23-year-old Eastern defender has rapidly risen up the ranks to earn his place in the senior international side

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 4:42pm

Full-back Wong Tsz-ho hopes to write another chapter to his fairy tale story as the Eastern defender embarks on an international career with the Hong Kong team.

Wong, who turned 23 this month, left with the Hong Kong squad for Jordan yesterday for a friendly match before heading to Beirut for a 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon.

He is now considered among the new generation of players Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon will rely upon after he decided to drop some of the old guard.

“It has been a wonderful season so far and hopefully I can consolidate my position in the Hong Kong team and play regularly,” said the youngster, who had his first practice session with the 22-member squad at Happy Valley before setting off for Jordan. “I won’t consider this as a dream come true because I have been working hard over the last couple of seasons. If you give your best, the results will come.”

At the start of the season, Wong still played for minnows Rangers, his third on-loan club in three seasons after playing for two other little-known sides, Wong Tai Sin and Dreams Metro Gallery.

But a series of strong performance for Rangers plus the scarcity of quality left-footers in Hong Kong prompted champions Eastern to recall the player as they needed to strengthen the depth of their home players in preparation for their maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League.

And Wong has not let the team down, playing for Eastern in domestic competitions as well as the regional top tier club competition, although his Champions League debut ended badly with him being sent off in the opening minutes of the match against Guangzhou Evergrande.

Wong was suspended for the next match against Kawasaki Frontale of Japan but showed no shortage of skills and courage when he was featured against Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Wong is not the only player to be given a chance in Kim’s plan to rejuvenate the squad. Li Ngai-hoi, of Kitchee, Tan Chun-lok, of Wofoo Tai Po and Leung Nok-hang, of South China – all of whom have played together for many years at junior level – are in the squad for the two Middle East matches.

“We first played together for Hong Kong at an Under-15 tournament in Beijing in 2008 followed by many youth international competitions,” said Wong. “I am very happy we all can move a step forward and meet again in the senior squad. Hopefully we can continue to contribute to the future of Hong Kong soccer.”