Jordan rout will not play on Hong Kong players’ mind, insists coach Kim Pan-gon
Five days after getting hammered by Jordan in a friendly in Annan, Kim’s charges take on Lebanon in a tricky group B match in Beirut but coach insists players are ready this time
Coach Kim Pan-gon has insisted Hong Kong’s 4-0 rout by Jordan in last week’s friendly will not play on his charges’ minds when they get down to the serious side of business against Lebanon in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers on Tuesday night.
Hong Kong take on Lebanon in their opening group B match in Beirut, just five days after they were humiliated by Jordan in Amman.
“All of the players know our aim is this game against Lebanon and we are not too concerned with that result against Jordan,” said Kim. “We wanted to give our young players more experience against Jordan and at the same time rest our senior players before this crucial game.
“Everything looks fine. We have come here early to give ourselves more time to adapt better [to conditions]. Our target is to get a minimum one point against Lebanon and this is important as we can put them under pressure when they come to Hong Kong.
“We all know it’s not going to be easy as the players must keep themselves fully focused throughout the match if we want to achieve our target.”
Goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai returns to action after missing the Jordan game because of a foot injury, while veteran Lee Chi-ho replaces youngster Wong Tsz-ho as left back, with Jack Sealy keeping his defending position on the right. Roberto Affonso Junior is preferred to Helio Goncalves in the central defence with Jean Kilama as his partner.
Festus Baise, who is making his China Super League season debut with Guizhou Zhicheng, could step forward as a defensive midfielder. Sandro and Jaimes McKee will keep their attacking positions up front.
A total of 24 teams have been placed in six groups, with the top two from each advancing to the Asian Cup finals in United Arab Emirates. North Korea and Malaysia are the two other teams in group B with Hong Kong and Lebanon but their match has been postponed to June due to security concerns.
Hong Kong have not qualified for the regional cup finals for many decades despite finishing third as the hosts in the inaugural event in 1956.
12 other teams, including defending champions Australia, China, Iraq, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan and the hosts, have already qualified for the finals through the 2018 World Cup Asian zone qualification round two.