Hong Kong national team call-ups for Kitchee’s Champions League heroes as crucial North Korea clash draws near
Tarres and Tong of Kitchee called up for Hong Kong’s do-or-die tie against North Korea with teammate Cheng overlooked
Kitchee striker Jorge Tarres and defender Tong Kin-man have won places in the Hong Kong national team after helping their club to a first ever AFC Champions League victory for a Hong Kong team – but goalscorer Cheng Chin-lun was overlooked.
The trio were not in the preliminary 31-member list announced for Hong Kong’s must win tie against North Korea next week in the Asian Cup qualifiers. But Tarres and Tong made irresistible claims in the historic 1-0 victory over visitors Kashiwa Reysol of Japan last Wednesday.
Cheng, who scored the wining goal with a fantastic 20-metre strike, which also won the Asian Champions League goal of the week, did not make it despite becoming a fan favourite.
One netizen said Hong Kong would have already qualified and defeated group leaders Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea if they had Cheng in the line-up.
The 23-member squad will travel to Beijing on Wednesday for a training camp before taking on North Korea in Pyongyang next Tuesday in their last group B match.
Hong Kong can still make it to the finals in the United Arab Emirates if they can pull off a famous victory at Kim Il-sung Stadium.
Champions Kitchee still have the most number of players in the squad with six players, despite the absence of two regulars – striker Sandro is suspended from international duty for picking up two yellow cards and midfield powerhouse Huang Yang has a hamstring problem.
Hong Kong are third in the group with five points, three behind second-placed North Korea. If they can collect all three points, they can finish second in the group on goal difference.
Hong Kong drew 1-1 against North Korea in the home leg in June. Leaders Lebanon have already qualified with 13 points and host Malaysia in Beirut next week.