Friday, 4 September 2015

China v Hong Kong 3rd September 2015



I don’t think my nerves will stand too many nights like last night! But what a performance. I was so pleased for Coach KIM and his team of coaches and players. The match statistics show that it was a pretty one-sided match (as you would expect against a team ranked 73 places higher) but our team worked so hard to maintain parity. Yes, we rode our luck at times, especially in the first half when the woodwork came to our help four times. Having said that we defended with courage and discipline and we kept a very organized shape throughout. There were some fantastic goal line clearances and our goalkeeper made some outstanding, I would say, world class saves.

China will be frustrated and disappointed not to have won but that’s the beauty of football; you have to put the ball in the back of the net. They had 90 minutes to do so and they failed to score. They were off target on many occasions and towards the end were reduced to shooting from long range. Initially it looked like they were a bit complacent thinking that they could score at will. As the game wore on I was surprised that they were so one-dimensional. Even though they made a number of substitutions they didn’t vary their shape or system and the transition from defense to attack was very pedestrian. This made it a bit easier for our team to defend. With about 20 minutes to go, I actually started to relax a bit because I didn’t think China could score.

In some ways I think last night’s performance was arguably as positive as Hong Kong’s victory against China in 1985. No disrespect meant to that outstanding team but China takes football much more seriously these days. Some of their players are paid more individually than our entire squad put together!
I would also like to pay tribute to the Hong Kong fans. They battled hard to simply buy tickets and get to the match! As ever their support was phenomenal and their behaviour was exemplary. I hope they remember the night for a long long time. Last night I was as proud of the fans as I was of the team.

I look forward now to the return leg to be played here in Hong Kong on 17th November. We still don’t know where the match will be played but in my opinion it would be a travesty if it was played anywhere other than the HK Stadium. This is one of the biggest and most important football matches to be played in Hong Kong and only our main stadium will do it justice. As many people as possible should be given the opportunity to watch the match and to support the team.  

I will finish with once again paying tribute to our fans and the Hong Kong team. It was an inspired brilliant performance. However, we must be realistic and keep our feet on the ground. In a few days we play against Qatar and they beat Bhutan 15-0 last night. It is sure to be another nerve jangling experience!


Mark Sutcliffe 

17 comments:

  1. It was indeed a great performance by the Hong Kong team and I really, really hope the home match against China will be played in Hong Kong Stadium. I think HKFA should use this scenario to explain to the public that, due to the popularity of both rugby sevens and soccer, we need Kai Tak Stadium as soon as possible.

    Also, could you please get Brian Leung to shut up? The more he talks he more stupid he makes HKFA looks. Even Steven Lo broke his silence to criticize him and Steven is supposed to be his good friend. Brian Leung should not be interviewed by TVB, he should have declined the invite.

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    1. Hi Allan,
      I have lost count of the number of times I have mentioned to various Government officials that the match should be played at the HKS. I hope it is played there too. We have also confirmed our keen interest to play at a new Stadium in Kai Tak as soon as possible. The Government has appointed consultants to move to the next stage and I have already met with them.
      I am sure you don't expect me to make a public comment about the Chairman. Mark

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  3. Oh, you really know that we battled hard to buy tickets and get to the match in China WITHOUT ANY SUPPORT FROM HKFA? Interesting. lol

    It required registration with our real name and passport ID on Sept 3. Why HKFA can't do the same? There are many ways for Mainland people to purchase the tickets that should be reserved for home team supporters. Even if HK vs China can be held in Hong Kong Stadium, our home ground will be hijacked by outsiders if HKFA don't do anything!

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    Replies
    1. Dear mdhm (whatever your real name is),
      Actually the HKFA went to China several times to discuss ticketing arrangements because we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our fans to watch the match live. As you know it is up to the 'home' team to determine ticketing arrangements and matters were outside of our control.
      As soon as we know where the home match against China will be held we will decide on the ticketing arrangements. I agree that Hong Kong fans should get the bulk of the tickets (it is normal practice for the away fans to get 8% of the allocation). You have already alluded to the difficulties associated with restricting sales and we are aware of the issues but let's see what we can do.
      Regards,
      Mark

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    2. It's unfortunate that the China FA doesn't conform to international standards for away supporter ticketing. There must be AFC and FIFA statutes/guidelines.

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    3. It's unfortunate that the China FA doesn't conform to international standards for away supporter ticketing. There must be AFC and FIFA statutes/guidelines.

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    4. Dear David,
      I will have to double check but as far as I am aware the CFA did not breach any specific rules/regulations. The usual allocation was given to away fans and there is nothing to stop them asking for details of the people buying the tickets. In fact this is common practice in a number of countries and a number of different sports. It is a sad fact of life at the moment that people buying tickets for events in some cases need to be traceable.
      I am not saying I agree with it, all I am saying is that it was the CFA's decision as to how to sell tickets.
      Regards,
      Mark

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  4. What is the problem with HK Stadium? Is it not available?

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    Replies
    1. Dear 'unknown',
      We don't know whether the stadium is available or not. We have requested to use it but it is up to the stadium owners and managers (i.e. the Government) to confirm the booking. As of now we don't know what their decision is.
      Between April and the end of September a new pitch has been laid at the stadium and whilst we think it will be ready, no confirmation has yet been received. There is an Olympic Qualification Rugby 7s tournament booked for November 7th and 8th. In my opinion a new pitch should have time to recover between then and the 17th but I can understand why the Government is nervous. Actually I don't think the decision is based on the pitch condition but I understand high level talks are taking place about safety and security. We will need to know soon because we need to put logistical arrangements in place. As soon as we are informed we will notify the public.
      Regards
      Mark

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  6. Hi Mark, Yesterday's game was the most exciting football game I have experienced. In a way I think the performance was much better than the previous one. How do you rate this game?

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    2. Dear Felix,
      I have posted a blog about the HK v Qatar match in which I praise both the team and the fans. What pleased me most was the way the players came back from 3 goals down. I think in the past many Hong Kong teams would have gone for a 'damage limitation strategy' and tried not to concede more goals. On Tuesday our players had the believe, the courage and the fitness to have a real go at Qatar. It was great to see and I understand how much the fans appreciated the effort. It was a shame we couldn't get a third goal but the relief on the faces of the Qatar players when the whistle blew said it all!
      Best wishes,
      Mark

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  7. Please let the fans know how to make suggestions for the new Kai Tak Stadium. I have many ideas about how to integrate more functions into the new stadium, so that it will not become a ghost town at night as your stupid chairman fears.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Allan,
      At the HKFA I am the main contact for the Government's consultants working on the project. If you and other people you know have any good ideas please send them to me and I will pass them on. Either comment on this blog or email me direct at mark.sutcliffe@hkfa.com
      I am firmly of the opinion that Hong Kong needs a new multi-purpose sports hub with a new stadium at its heart. If we don't get one soon we will simply fall further behind other countries in Asia.
      Regards,
      Mark

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