Hong Kong almost pull off famous victory over North Korea

Home side draw 1-1 after taking a first-half lead but immediately concede equaliser at the start of the second half but coach Kim Pan-gon overall satisfied with a point

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 10:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 2:34am

Hong Kong almost pulled off a famous victory against North Korea in a 1-1 draw that put a smile back on Kim Pan-gon’s face in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.

Coming off a respectable 0-0 draw with Jordan in a friendly last week, the home side started the week off in positive fashion, giving Kim’s men a timely boost after the announcement that Hong Kong giants South China were pulling out of the top-tier Premier League for the coming season. And with South China captain Chan Wai-ho saying that he was retiring from international soccer, the city needed something to put Kim’s team on an even keel after last week’s unhappy news.

It came in the form of their draw with the North Koreans, who reached the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and were expected to repeat their earlier success against Hong Kong when they won 1-0 in the East Asian Championships at Mong Kok Stadium. Hong Kong have now drawn with North Korea four times, while losing 11.

But Kim’s charges, egged on by a home crowd of 8,100 fans, many of them turning up with flags and banners, left Hong Kong Stadium happy.

Kim was satisfied with the draw in group B, although he was a bit annoyed North Korea were able to find the equaliser after Tan Chun-lok slotted home at the stroke of half-time. Just a minute upon resumption Kim Yu-song found the net and the result remained the same until the final whistle.

“Playing against such a strong side like North Korea, I think in terms of performance, the spirit was very good and maybe we can look forward to getting more points in this competition,” said Kim.

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“We shouldn’t concede that goal in such a short time,” he said of the 46th-minute equaliser. “It’s our mistake and we must correct this mistake. From time to time they [North Korea] put us under pressure and we tried to change the game tactically. Anyway, I appreciate our players because they followed my instructions to achieve a point,” he said.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the result, he replied: “Yes, satisfied.”

Goalscorer Tan was also pleased with the draw but said it was a pity the home side conceded a goal so early in the second half.

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“We must be satisfied with a draw because North Korea are a strong team. We relaxed a bit during the start of the second half but overall, we should be satisfied,” said 21-year-old Tan, who plays for local Premier League side Tai Po.

Hong Kong have one point so far from two games played in the Asian Cup qualifiers. They lost their earlier game against Lebanon 2-0 in March in Beirut. Hong Kong take on Malaysia away in their next game in September.