Despite Hong Kong’s 2-3 loss to Qatar in a World Cup Qualifiers match on Tuesday Night, the team’s efforts to equalise the match drew cheers from fans gathered not just at Mong Kok Stadium but also at a public screening of the match in Kennedy Town.

Hong Kong was behind 0-1 at half time and 0-3 at the 84th minute, but the national team soon mounted a surprise comeback to recover the loss. Bai He and Godfred Karikari scored in the 86th and 89th minute to bring the final score to 2-3.

Tickets for the match—attended by 6,396 fans including Financial Secretary John Tsang—were entirely sold out according to the Hong Kong Football Association.

Hong Kong fans rejoiced after getting second goal
Hong Kong fans in Kennedy Town rejoiced after getting second goal. Photo: HKFP.

With China trouncing the Maldives 3-0 at an “away” game in Shenyang—their opponents decided that their home pitch was not good enough to play on and agreed to play the game in China instead—Qatar now leads group C of the Asia Football Confederation World Cup Qualifiers with nine points.

China and Hong Kong follow with seven points each; however, China leads Hong Kong by one goal difference and has played one fewer match. Maldives and Bhutan are at bottom of the group with zero points.

Chinese national anthem booed again

Hong Kong supporters in Mong Kok Stadium once again jeered at the Chinese national anthem as it played before kick-off, the third time doing so following similar scenes at home matches against Bhutan and Maldives in June.

As March of the Volunteers faded out, fans chanted, “We are Hong Kong!”

YouTube video

In July, the Hong Kong Football Association received a warning letter from FIFA, football’s international governing body, stating that the HKFA may be penalised if fans booed the anthem again.

These penalties may include fines, point deductions or a closed-door match.

Public screening

Around 80 spectators gathered on Sands Street in Kennedy Town, near Her Wong Terrace, to watch the match on a projector screen.

The public screening attracted local residents and people from other districts to cheer on their side with fellow supporters on the hilly street.

Joe Ho, a media worker who wore the Hong Kong national team jersey to the screening, said: “I live in Wan Chai so I can watch at home, but I came here after seeing organisers’ invitation on social media.”

“The atmosphere is great. We can talk about football and even those who do not know football that well can cheer for the team here—it’s better than staying at home.”

Football fans gathered for a community screening in Kennedy Town.
Football fans gathered for a community screening in Kennedy Town. Photo: HKFP.

However, a complaint was lodged by a local resident who said his newborn daughter could not sleep due to noise from the screening, and that the organisers had not applied for a public screening license.

Police intervened and persuaded the disgruntled resident to return home.

Lui Yat-nam, one of the organisers, said that they lowered the volume by not turning on the loudspeaker and asking fans to keep quiet, and that he hoped residents would understand and support this one-off event.

Police persuaded unhappy resident to go.
Police officer persuaded unhappy resident to go. Photo: HKFP.

Organisers received an oral warning from police after the screening, but have asked participants to return for another screening when the next World Cup Qualifiers match comes.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.