Hong Kong drew 0-0 with China at Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday night where two disallowed goals became the talking points of the match.

Home fans praised the team for the tie, but it may not be enough for Hong Kong and China to advance to the next stage of the World Cup qualifiers.

Hong Kong player Sandro against Chinese player Wu Xi. Photo: Hong Kong Football Association.
Hong Kong player Sandro against Chinese player Wu Xi. Photo: Hong Kong Football Association.

One of the disallowed goals from team Hong Kong was in the 52nd minute of the second half when Festus Baise put the ball in the net, but the referee deemed the goal illegal as Hong Kong forward Paulinho had fouled Chinese goalkeeper Wang Dalei first.

There was more controversy in the 77th minute when Chinese player Yu Dabao apparently managed to strike the ball past the goal line – but the referee did not allow it.

Hong Kong goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai said after the match that people should accept the decisions of the referee as part of a game.

“You can’t always blame the result on the referee, or blame luck – if you have the ability, these external factors should not affect you.” he said.

China's disallowed goal.
China’s disallowed goal.

During the match, Hong Kong and China both hit the woodwork twice, with Yapp making a series of 3 saves in a single attack from China.

Hong Kong player Yapp Hung-fai against Chinese player Yu Dabao.
Hong Kong player Yapp Hung-fai against Chinese player Yu Dabao. Photo: Facebook/HF YAPP.

Long shot to advance

The draw means that Hong Kong stays in second place in the group with one game remaining in Qatar, while China is in third place with matches against the Maldives and Qatar scheduled.

As Qatar beat Bhutan 3-0 on Tuesday, the Middle Eastern country secured its spot in the next round of the competition.

Both teams must win the remaining matches in order to be among the four best-second-placed teams in the world cup qualifiers to be able to advance. However, it could be difficult for both teams to beat Qatar.

The fate of Hong Kong and China also depends on the teams in other groups with better results. Uzbekistan, Jordan, Syria and United Arab Emirates, which are relatively stronger teams, would have to lose points in future matches.


Satisfied with result

Although the chance to advance remains slim, the Hong Kong team and fans were satisfied with the result.

Goalkeeper and captain Yapp Hung-fai said after the match that “Our performance at this match was quite good… compared to the away match, we brought on threats to the China team.”

【香港勁揪】呢一晚,每一個都係英雄。#香港 0:0 #中國#撐自己人 #香港隊 #真的做到了

Posted by keymansoho 足球版圖 on Tuesday, 17 November 2015

“This draw shows that people do not look down on the Hong Kong team – although the Hong Kong team is not a very strong one, we often create miracles.” Yapp added.

The away game in Shenzhen in September also ended with a 0-0 draw.

Hong Kong team in the dressing room after the match.
The Hong Kong team in the dressing room after the match. Photo: Facebook/Chan Siu Ki.

Striker Chan Siu-ki posted on his Facebook on Tuesday evening: “Thank you all the Hong Kong people who supported us!”

Power of Hong Kong, a group of fans supporting the team, hailed the draw as a win: “The win belongs to everyone who has contributed.”

Hong Kong fans.
Hong Kong fans.

Unhappy Chinese fans

The Chinese team and the fans were not so happy.

Chinese team captain Zheng Zhi said after the match that there were some deciding factors for the draw.

“You can see the [Mong Kok] stadium is very small, and the opponents were defending tightly,” he said his team had created opportunities, “but we lacked luck, we missed some chances, a goal that I heard had gone past the line was not counted – and some hit the crossbar.”

“All in all, the two games against Hong Kong were especially unfortunate.” he added.

More than 18,000 Chinese netizens responded to a poll by the website Sina after the match, in which half of them said they were angry about the result, 27 percent said they were disappointed, and 21 percent said they were calm, Apple Daily reported.

The poll also showed that 75 percent of the respondents thought China’s team coach Alain Perrin should step down, as he did not create good results for the team.

The hacked Chinese Football Association website.
The hacked Chinese Football Association website.

The Chinese Football Association’s website was hacked by a person claiming to be a fan on Wednesday at around midnight. It was replaced with a note criticising Perrin’s strategy and misuse of players.

The fan demanded Perrin and Cai Zhenhua – president of the Chinese Football Association – should step down, and that Cai should be investigated by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission with a “discipline inspection”.

Perrin  said after the match that he will not resign: “I asked the players [not to] give up, so I never give up my career, so I want to fight, I know now it’s more difficult.”

Hong Kong’s next World Cup qualifier match will be on March 24, 2016 in Qatar.

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.