Kin Pan-gon set to give Hong Kong’s youngsters the chance to shine in friendly against Jordan
Coach is likely to stay faithful to naturalised players but will look to give his rising stars more playing time
Hong Kong coach Kim Pan-gon will test a mix of experienced naturalised players and young guns in a friendly match against Jordan in Amman on Thursday.
The clash is specially arranged to help Hong Kong prepare for another Middle East nation, Lebanon, in the opening match of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers five days later in Beirut.
Hong Kong have not qualified for the regional championship for decades following their appearances in the early years of the finals back in 1950s and 60s.
But with growing support from the government in recent years, the Hong Kong Football Association has been able to allocate more resources for the team’s preparations after an encouraging run in the 2018 World Cup Asian zone qualifiers.
Hong Kong came close to reaching the third round of World Cup qualification, which features the top 12 teams from Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Their two draws against group favourites China were among the highlights of the tournament but Hong Kong finally had to settle for third place in the group stage and failed to gain direct entry into the 2019 Asian Cup finals.
And now they must start all over again but the draw was hardly kind to Hong Kong as they face North Korea, Lebanon and Malaysia in a group where only the top two teams can reach the finals.
While coach Kim continues to put faith in the more physical naturalised players, he also picked a group of young lads that may form the core of the team in the future.
The likes of Wong Tsz-ho, Lee Ka-yiu, Li Ngai-hoi, Tan Chun-lok and Leung Nok-hang may have a chance to experience full international soccer over the next few days
Although Jordan are not among the top-ranked teams in the Middle East, they play a strong, physical game with a direct and attacking style.