Thursday, 17 October 2013

Thank you to our fans 感謝香港球迷的支持

Thank you to our fans

Just short of 8,000 people were at the Hong Kong Stadium last night to cheer on the Hong Kong Senior team. We have been criticized by some people for moving the game from Mong Kok stadium but if we hadn’t have done so there would have been a lot of disappointed people. The atmosphere was good at the HKS and it felt right to be holding this important international match in the National Stadium. We have to be ambitious and I feel that we are outgrowing Mong Kok except for less important friendly matches. The Hong Kong fans demonstrated their passion and I was proud to be associated with the local game. I want to say a big thank you to the fans for supporting the team, it means a lot to us. I hope that you will keep coming and that over time the numbers will swell even further.

Personally, I don’t think the 0:4 score line would have been any different if the match had been played anywhere else. They were clearly the superior side but you would expect that from a team ranked 66 places higher than us in the FIFA rankings, we have to be realistic in our expectations. Two late goals makes it look very one-sided but that’s not how I saw the game. It was competitive for most of the match and whilst our players generally were not as skillful as theirs, I cannot fault our team for work rate and commitment.

What this match reinforces is how much more work we need to do to develop players and how much more support we need to give them in their preparation for matches like this one. We are still lagging behind other countries in so many respects. We have no dedicated training facilities. We don’t have proper sports science support. We have no conditioning coach. We have no match/player analysis tools. I could go on but the point is that we do not have a fully developed ‘high performance’ system and culture; we are letting our players down. We know what we need to do, we have plans and ambitions in all of these areas of weakness. The only thing we lack is the resources to put these things in place. Until this situation changes we will have more nights like last night where our team does their very best but where their opponents are simply better prepared.

Everyone really wants success; the players, the coaches, the administrators and most of all the fans. There is no doubt that we are improving but equally we know there is a long way to go. We need further change and we need it now. We need a training centre quickly (goodness knows it has been talked about for long enough) and we need a properly resourced ‘high performance’ system including expert sports science support – similar to the resources and systems in place at the HKSI. Against the top foreign teams we cannot just rely on our coaches’ and players’ ‘fighting spirit’ and the support of our fans. These things are great but they will only carry us so far.










  1. Dear Mr. Sutcliffe,

    How are you?

    I was one of the 8,000 who attended the match. Although I am fully aware that we are the inferior side and accept defeat is more or less inevitable, I am still disappointed with the score line and Mr. Kim's tactics.

    Mr. Kim seemed to me to have played too many players out of position. First with no. 23 Ju Yingzhi who was out of position and appeared out of his depth at this level. The choice of playing him also mean Chan Siu-Ki had to move to the wing which has never been his best position. He only rectified it when we were 0-1 down. By then we had to chase the game and given the difference in class it was never going to happen.

    Then the late change of Lo Kwan-Yi to Lee Wai-Lim was also baffling. Lee Wai-Lim never played right back in his life! And lots of people think this change was the main reason for the two late goals, both happened at HK's right defense. 0-2 and 0-4 is a big difference if it came down to goal difference in the end.

    I know Mr. Kim maybe trying to get a goal by introducing Lee Wai-Lim but we all knew this was not realistic. If he had played Jack Sealy instead I think we would only suffer a more respectable 0-2 defeat.

    I am not asking for Mr. Kim's head. He has done fantastic things for Hong Kong football. But he needs to be reminded that an official match (rather than a friendly) is no place for experiments.

    We still have a chance of beating Uzbekistan and Vietnam to second place in the group and that's why I am so upset with the loss of two late goals due to a stupid substitution. All the hard work of the previous 89 minutes were gone.

    Anyway I hope Mr. Kim learnt his lesson and play a more sensible team from now on. Beating Uzbekistan and Vietnam won't be easy but not impossible. If we lost out on qualifying due to goal difference then you would know the pain.



  2. Dear Allan,
    Thank you for your comments. As you would expect, we have had a de-brief here and many of the points you make were discussed. I'm not going to go into detail in public and at the end of the day, selection decisions and tactics must be down to the Head Coach.
    I have seldom met a more thoughtful and committed Coach than Mr KIM and let me tell you, no-one was more disappointed than him the other night. Rest assured that he will be reflecting on what happened against UAE and doing whatever is necessary to improve for the matches against UAE, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
    Mr KIM has my full support and I told him that after the UAE match.
    We can still qualify and that is our goal. You are right, it won't be easy. In the new FIFA rankings announced yesterday, UAE is up to 71, (77 places above HK) and Uzbekistan is ranked 55 (93 places higher than HK). It's a very tough group and these rankings put the task into perspective.
    As my blog points out, Hong Kong is a long way behind many countries in Asia in terms of football development, facilities and support.
    Please keep supporting.

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