2023 Asian Cup qualifiers: Hong Kong on brink of finals after beating Cambodia 3-0
- Jorn Andersen’s side make it two wins from two in Group D in the qualifying tournament in Kolkata
- The winners of their group qualify for next year’s finals, while second place could also be enough for Hong Kong
First-half goals from Matt Orr and Sun Ming-him put Andersen’s side in the driving seat inside the first 21 minutes at the Salt Lake Stadium, and Philip Chan added a third in the 63rd minute to seal a second Group D win from two outings for a Hong Kong squad missing key players and dealing with illness and injury issues.
Victory or a draw against hosts India when the teams play on Tuesday would be enough to take Hong Kong into next year’s finals. A place could also be sealed in the event of a loss, if other results go Hong Kong’s way.
The winners of the six qualifying groups advance to the finals, which were due to be held in China next June and July until mainland Chinese authorities withdrew because of the country’s Covid-19 restrictions. A new host will be appointed later this year.
The five group runners-up with the best records will also progress. Hong Kong’s record of two wins from two would, at the moment, see Andersen’s team claim one of those berths at a minimum.
Any worries the coach had about the difficulty of breaking down ultra-defensive opponents evaporated by the midway point in the first half.
Orr struck with 19 minutes on the clock to claim his second in two games, the Kitchee striker netting with his left foot after Sun stumbled through several attempted challenges.
Two minutes later Sun was putting his own name on the scoresheet as he met Ju Yingzhi’s inswinging corner to head into an empty net with Cambodian goalkeeper Hul Kimhuy stranded, inexplicably blocked by his own defender, Ken Chansopheak.
Sun had already steered a free header wide of the target, and Orr was denied by Kimhuy in a commanding opening quarter for Hong Kong.
Keisuke Honda cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines for Cambodia, the former Japan international – the team’s joint-coach alongside Ryu Hirose – left scratching his head at his side’s fractured performance.
He was to receive some encouragement six minutes before the break, when Sieng Chanthea twisted and turned past Yue Tze-nam to create the space to take aim at the far corner of the Hong Kong goal, but Yapp managed to get enough of a touch on the ball to push it wide for a corner.
The result was put beyond any doubt 18 minutes after the restart when Orr turned provider, curling over a cross from the left that Chan – who had been introduced as a replacement for Sun just three minutes earlier – dived to head home, sparking scenes of joy on the Hong Kong bench.
Scorers: Hong Kong (M Orr 19, Sun MH 21, P Chan 63).
Hong Kong (4-1-3-2): Yapp Hung-fai – Yue Tze-nam (sub: Jahangir Khan, 60), Yu Wai-lim, Sean Tse Ka-keung, Wong Tze-ho – Huang Yang (sub: Ngan Lok-fung, 83) – Law Tsz-chun (sub: Wu Chun-ming, 75), Ju Yingzhe (sub: Diego Eli, 75), Wong Wai – Matthew Orr, Sun Ming-him (sub: Philip Chan, 60). Substitutes not used: Wang Zhenpeng, Paulo César, Ryan Lau, Jesse Yu, Ngan Lok-fung, Leung Kwun-chung, Tomas Maronesi. Booked: Wong Tsz-ho.
Cambodia (5-4-1): Hul Kimhuy – Ken Chansopheak, Choun Chanchav, Boris Kok (sub: Keo Sokpheng, 46), Bin Chanthacheary, Soeuy Visal (sub: Chheng Meng, 46) – Sos Suhana (sub: Mat Noron, 67), Orn Chanpolin, In Sodavid, Ty Sa (sub: Brak Thiva, 54) – Sieng Chanthea (sub: Ean Pisey, 71). Substitutes not used: Keo Soksela, Taing Bunchhai, Tes Sambath, Chou Sinti, Sin Sovannmakara, Long Phearath. Booked: None