International friendly sees new faces impress for Hong Kong in stroll over Myanmar
Naturalised players lift the hosts in 5-0 confidence booster ahead of World Cup qualifier against Maldives in Male
Hong Kong thrashed Myanmar 5-0 at Mong Kok Stadium yesterday in a confidence-boosting win ahead of two crucial World Cup qualifiers over the next 10 days.
Newcomers Alex Akande and Sandro scored in their international debuts after forward Jaimes McKee's brace and a goal from Chan Siu-ki put them 3-0 up at half-time.
Coach Kim Pan-gon admitted the Hong Kong team were strengthened by the arrival of the newly naturalised players, who also included Paulo Carreiro. All the three Kitchee players earned their first international caps when they were brought on in the second half.
"Before we had strong points in some parts of our game, but certainly with the new players coming in we are a more powerful team," said Kim, who praised McKee for his two goals, which included a second-minute opener.
"We still need time to work together, but there are a few more days until the Maldives game and I am confident of achieving what we want to achieve to make everybody understand their roles and make us a better side."
Myanmar coach Gerd Zeise said he felt the Hong Kong team had improved in the second half with the new recruits. "The naturalised players were very dangerous and put a lot of pressure on our defence," he said. "But the players did not lose the game, it was my tactics.
"We had possession for more than 30 minutes in the first half, but could not score as Hong Kong players played very clever football with their counter-attacks," added Zeise.
McKee made a brilliant start in front of the 5,200-strong crowd when glancing home at the far post after Ju Yingzhi's corner from the left.
With better individual skills and teamwork, the visitors put Hong Kong under constant pressure after their early setback. But defying the run of play, striker Chan and McKee added to the tally before the half-time whistle, giving Myanmar too much work to get back into the match.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said he was happy with the fans' behaviour although there was still booing of the China national anthem before the match.
"There was only a little booing and I don't think it will cause a big problem for the match commissioner," he said. "This was a good match for Hong Kong and I would love to see the same scoreline against China in 10 days' time."
Leung also said they wanted to start the World Cup qualifier against the Maldives three hours earlier, at 6pm, so the Hong Kong team can leave straight after the match and not have to stay overnight, given they must play China five days later.
Hong Kong will leave for the Maldives tomorrow after Fifa ordered the November 12 match to go ahead despite a state of emergency in the Indian Ocean nation.