Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA)

Manchester United thrashing can be the making of us, says Hong Kong academy coach

Three stretchered off in feisty encounter as Hong Kong District All-Stars are utterly outclassed in 7-0 rout by English club’s Academy Under-16s

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 4:35pm

The stark differences between youth football in Hong Kong and England were laid bare on Wednesday night as Manchester United’s Academy Under-16s outclassed a Hong Kong District All-Stars team 7-0.

But All-Stars coach Sam Bensley thinks Hong Kong’s young players can close the gap after they were handed a chastening lesson at the Tsing Yi Sports Ground.

“It was obvious to see the difference in intensity, individual technique and tactics,” said Bensley, who is grassroots football manager at the Hong Kong Football Association.

“The difference in level isn’t made over a few sessions, so as coaches in Hong Kong, we must encourage high intensity and focus on individual technique like quick dribbling using creative movements to beat the defender from a very young age.”

Hong Kong national team coach Kim Pan-gon was also among the few hundred in attendance to scout potential future talent but it seems the youngsters on show have a way to go.

“Once we work together to do this, maybe in the future we can close the gap,” added Bensley.

“We have to think about the long-term development of the players right from when they first start playing to give them their best chance to achieve their potential.”

Two All-Stars players were stretchered off and one United player left the pitch in a neck brace in what was a feisty friendly encounter.

Club representatives said all three are fine and suffered no serious injury.

Watch: Hong Kong District All-Stars v Manchester United Academy U16

“The first 50 minutes were good but once the tiredness came in, the quality of Man United showed through,” said Bensley.

“I was happy to see a good turnout and it was difficult to get messages out the players from the side of the pitch because of the noise at times.

“I hope they continue to support Hong Kong football and encourage our young players as much as possible.”

The Red Devils opened the scoring after just three minutes with a clever toe poke at the goalkeeper’s near post.

“The first 40 minutes was a really tough test for us, but once we got on top, we did really well and got some nice goals,” said United youth development coach Neil Ryan.

There’s no such thing as a friendly, says Manchester United academy coach ahead of Hong Kong District All-Stars test

An unfortunate deflection, and a defensive error saw the All-Stars go 3-0 down, and United could have been two or three more up if it weren’t for goalkeeper Cheung Cheuk-wai’s heroics.

“I thought [Cheung] had a great performance. Two weeks ago, he was nervous coming off his line but even against the big players, he came out to punch the ball with confidence. He’s got a lot of potential,” said Bensley.

In the second of three 30-minute periods, Cheung pulled off a superb stop from a header but United tucked away the rebound to make it 4-0.

“We’ve been working on managing the game and making space to create opportunities,” said Ryan.

“[Hong Kong football] can be as fast and furious as the British game. You have to look at the technical things such as possession and keeping the ball off the opposition.”

The goal of the night was a perfectly-struck volley on the edge of the All-Stars penalty area to make it 5-0.

United then stretched their lead with a sixth from a goalmouth scramble before a late penalty completed the rout.