Hong Kong head coach Kim Pan-gon recently presented his preliminary team selection for the upcoming four FIFA friendly games in September and October. While there are no major surprises in the line-up, Kim’s choice is once again very conservative – and given the circumstances some of the nominations might even be a bit questionable.
To start off on a positive not, it appears that Tai Po forward Wong Wai could make his comeback in the representative team – more than 18 months after suffering a horrific leg-break during the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup. Another returnee will be South China’s Chan Siu Ki, who made his last international appearance on November 17th during the historic draw against China (although he was just substituted for the last 4 minutes).
Kim also needs to replace some of his key players: Team captain Chan Wai Ho was expected to return after missing most of the World Cup qualifiers, but he got injured once again right after the exhibition game against Juventus. Paulinho has also been dealing with health issues, with his last match for his China League One club Shenzhen FC already dating back to April. However, Kim still counts on other Hong Kong veterans abroad, although Jack Sealy has a hard time to establish himself in the first squad of CSL side Changchun Yatai and centre-back Jean-Jacques Kilama also struggles to earn the trust of newly appointed Tianjin Quanjian coach Cannavaro.
For this time, Leung Kwun Chung, Lee Ka Yiu, Paul Olivier Ngue and Kwok Kin Pong have not been considered for the team. Similarly, striker James Ha is still waiting for his well-deserved nomination after an excellent season with Southern District. Friendly games like these might actually be a good chance to integrate younger talents while bidding a respectable farewell to senior players such as 38-year-old Chris Annan. Despite the inspiring qualifiers, it is about time that we look beyond the “status quo”, which is – let’s be honest – not good enough. And why not use such friendly games to do just that – and diversify the team’s tactical plan?
The preliminary squad with 31 players, with an average age of 29.4, is as follows:
GK: Yapp Hung Fai (Eastern), Wang Zhenpeng (Kitchee), Tse Tak Him (Southern District), Tsang Man Fai (South China)
DF: Robert “Beto” Affonso Jr. (Eastern), Festus Baise (Guizhou Zhicheng), Cheng King Ho (Eastern), Cheung Kin Fung (South China), Fong Pak Lun (Pegasus), Helio (Kitchee), Jean-Jacques Kilama (Tianjian Quanjian), Lee Chi Ho (Meizhou Kejia), Li Ngai Hoi (Kitchee), Andy Russell (South China), Jonathan Jack Sealy (Changchun Yatai)
MF: Bai He (Eastern), Itaparica (Xinjian Tianshan), Sandro (Kitchee), Huang Yang (Kitchee), Lam Ka Wai (Kitchee), Leung Chun Pong, Lo Kwan Yee (Kitchee), Michael Luk (Southern District), Tan Chun Lok (Tai Po), Xu Deshuai (Eastern)
FW: Alex Akande (Kitchee), Chris Annan (Pegasus), Chan Siu Ki (South China), Godfred Karikari (Qingdao Huangniu), Jaimes McKee (Eastern), Wong Wai (Tai Po)