Plan A went accordingly ... now for Plan B: Hong Kong surprise Guangdong 2-0
Hosts take a two-goal cushion going into the second leg of the annual competition celebrating its 40th edition after late show at Hong Kong Stadium
Captain Cheung Chi-yung found the net and promising striker Chuck Yiu-kwok put the icing on the cake as a young Hong Kong soccer side upset Guangdong 2-0 in the first leg of the annual interport clash on Thursday night.
Hong Kong have been on the losing end in the traditional new year tournament for the past four years, but the city has the chance to wrest the trophy back after some encouraging play by the mainly under-23 side at Hong Kong Stadium, watched by a crowd of 5,340.
Cheung stabbed home for the first goal from a goalmouth scramble in the 79th minute after Michael Luk Chi-ho’s corner was weakly punched out by Guangdong goalkeeper Han Feng.
Chuck put the result beyond doubt two minutes into injury time when, coming through on the left flank, his low shot found its target after his initial attempt was blocked. The margin could have been bigger if an earlier header by Chuck in the 88th minute had found its mark.
Interim Hong Kong coach Kenneth Kwok Ka-lok, who took over the coaching duties of outgoing coach Kim Pan-gon last month, had his first taste of football at senior level and must have been encouraged by what he saw, especially in the last 15 minutes.
Kwok only met some of the youngsters for the first time last month and had little time to make his mark at a training session on Wednesday. But he was grinning from ear to ear on Thursday night.
“Plan A went accordingly. Now it’s Plan B,” said a delighted Kwok. “I was really encouraged by our defence. We battled hard for every ball even though we were playing against older and more experienced opposition. We kept going until the final whistle. It was a very encouraging result for us.
“We won’t relax in the second leg on Sunday,” he added. “Even though we have a two-goal cushion, we will still try to score again in Guangzhou.”
Thursday’s game was a chance for Hong Kong’s young guns to shine as they seek places in the senior squad that will do battle in an Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea in March.
Victory in Pyongyang will guarantee Hong Kong a place in the 2019 finals in the UAE.
Kwok would have been encouraged by the efforts of Lo Kong-wai, goalkeeper Yuen Ho-chun, Chak Ting-fung and Michael Luk Chi-ho.
Yuen had a solid game even though he was kept busy throughout the 90 minutes as Guangdong always looked a danger, particularly in the box, with Yang Chaosheng coming closest for the visitors when his shot struck a post in the 26th minute.
That came moments before Lo broke through on the counter attack before pulling his shot wide.
Hong Kong surprisingly kept their shape right up to the end to earn a well-deserved victory to brighten their hopes of bringing the interport trophy back to Hong Kong for the first time in five years.