Chan Wai-ho to make his final bow for Hong Kong against Jordan

South China skipper will end his international playing career on June 7 at Mong Kok as Hong Kong prepare for their Asian Cup match against the North Koreans

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 May, 2017, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 May, 2017, 11:14pm

Centre-half Chan Wai-ho will don the Hong Kong jersey for the last time in his glittering 17-year international career against Jordan in a friendly next week in preparation for the team’s Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea.

The South China player is set to become the first Hong Kong international to receive the honour of having his official farewell match on the international stage – setting an example for his fellow Hong Kong players.

“I don’t have any regrets in my international career over the years,” said the South China captain, who first represented Hong Kong in a friendly match against United Arabs Emirates in 2000. “But if this [farewell match] can start bringing more recognition to players who have contributed to the Hong Kong team, this will be a good initiative which I am definitely all for.”

The Mong Kok Stadium match on June 7 will be Chan’s first international game since he was replaced in the fourth minute in the memorable World Cup goalless qualifier against China in Shenzhen in September 2015 after twisting his right ankle. The Jordan game will complete his 65th appearance for Hong Kong. Chan has proven to be one of the most reliable defenders to play for Hong Kong.

“I can suit the defensive requirements of different coaches and perhaps that’s why I have survived for so long, much longer than many of my peers,” said the versatile defender, who is expected to come on as an honorary guest player for Hong KOng. “When we first represented Hong Kong, we had to compete against naturalised players but they were only a small group of top players. Unlike nowadays, the Hong Kong team has seen an influx of naturalised players, some of them can’t even secure a regular position in their respective clubs.”

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Under these tough conditions for home-grown talent, Chan said he was delighted to see some of them break through the ranks. “My teammate Leung Nok-hang stands a good chance of taking up the baton as he has performed strongly despite his [tender] age but he must be given more opportunities if he wants to succeed me both at club and international level,” said Chan, who is not part of Kim Pang-gon’s 23-member squad for the Asian Cup qualifiers.

Leung, 22, did make Kim’s initial squad as they prepare for the friendly against Jordan and the Asian Cup qualifiers against North Korea at Hong Kong Stadium on June 13.

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Kim has a selection headache as top league scorer Sandro, who scored 24 goals for Kitchee this season, Chan Siu-ki of Pegasus and Manuel Santos of Tai Po have all opted out of the two matches.

“Sandro is out of contract in June and he doesn’t want to run the risk of playing for Hong Kong without a club which means he will have no salary coverage in case of injury,” said the coach. “Santos has left Hong Kong while Chan left for personal reasons. But we cannot be discouraged no matter what happens and must look forward. We do not have a full squad against North Korea – this is a fact but it does not mean we have no chance as we will put up a brave fight in front of the home crowd.”

Hong Kong were beaten 2-0 by home team Lebanon in their opening campaign and another slip-up will ruin their chances of making to the 2019 Asian Cup tournament proper.

They last played the North Koreans at home, losing 1-0 in the East Asian Championships second round last November.