Hong Kong starts EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Final by facing host-nation on Wednesday

2019-12-10

Hong Kong is set to kick-off its journey in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Final Korea Republic by facing host-nation Korea Republic on Wednesday. Match venue for the clash will be Busan Asiad Main Stadium, Korea Republic, and starting time for the affair will be 7:30 (Busan, Korea Republic, local time)

Hong Kong earned its place in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Final Korea Republic by coming through Round 2 of the competition, fighting off challenges from DPR Korea, Chinese Taipei and Mongolia.

Led by head coach Mixu Paatelainen, the travelling Hong Kong squad consists of a mixture of fast-rising young guns and experienced veterans. Mainstays such as Yapp Hung-fai, Huang Yang and Alessandro Leonardo have all been called up for the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Final Korea Republic, while emerging players such as Leung Nok-hang, Tan Chun-lok and Philip Chan are all ready to utilize the opportunity to showcase their own talent and to further stake their claims for a starting position in the team.

Ranked 139th in the world, according to the latest FIFA World Ranking published on the 28th November 2019, Hong Kong will be facing an up-hill battle against host-nation Korea Republic on Wednesday. However, things are certainly on the rise in the Hong Kong camp, as the team is coming off a 2:0 victory against Cambodia in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Qualification Round 2, giving head coach Mixu Paatelainen his first victory after taking over Hong Kong.

As a matter of fact, Hong Kong is actually riding on a mini two-game unbeaten streak, first holding Bahrain to a 0:0 goalless draw at home, before going on and beating Cambodia 2:0 in Hong Kong Stadium. Spirits in the Hong Kong camp should be quite high at the moment and it remains to be seen whether the team can adopt to the chilly conditions in Korea Republic and come up with an encouraging performance against the host-nation in the opening game.

Enterprising defender Li Ngai-hoi believes Korea Republic is probably the most physical side in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Final Korea Republic and Hong Kong players must be ready for the challenges ahead.

“I competed in the AFC Champions League 2017 group-stage for Kitchee and we came up against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from Korea Republic. Korean players are both skillful and physical, making them very difficult to play against,” Li assessed.

“That experience against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors had served my career well, as I had learnt a lot from playing against the Koreans. As a team, we must not write ourselves off by thinking we do not stand any chance against Korea Republic. In fact, we should dig deep, stay strong mentally and focus on playing up to our tempo throughout the match.”

Korea Republic currently sits on the 41st spot in the world, according to the FIFA World Ranking published on the 28th November 2019, almost a hundred spots above Hong Kong.

While Europe-based star players such as Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in might be missing from the Korea Republic team that will be involved in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Final Korea Republic, yet the host still possesses undoubted quality in the squad.

Dynamic winger Kim Bo-kyung, who played for Cardiff City, Wigan Athletic and Kashiwa Reysol, can rip apart any defense with individual skills and lighting pace; while defender Kim Jin-su, who had spells with Albirex Niigata and 1899 Hoffenheim, is solid defensively and has the ability to join in on the attack. Both players offer Korea Republic with experience, flair and can seriously threaten the Hong Kong defense.