The South China Morning Post reported this week on Hong Kong's tough draw in the Asian Games.
A reason for this is that Palestine now joins them in group A after the “redraw” of the tournament at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur a couple of weeks ago. The redraw had to be made as somehow organisers left out two countries in the first draw earlier in July.
As in the original draw, there were six groups of four nations, with the top two nations from those six groups, plus the four best third-seeded teams, set to reach the round of 16. However two of these groups one of which being Hong Kong's group have now increased to five nations. This was after the AFC ordered Indonesian organisers to conduct a redraw after learning that the UAE and Palestine were left out.
The coach for Hong Kong for the games Kenneth Kwok Ka-Lok said “Palestine is a strong side, reaching the last-16 of the AFC Under-23 tournament last year before losing to Qatar. They have six to seven players who are playing in Europe and we are trying to gather more information on them as I don’t think we have met them in any youth tournament before.”
A positive to this, however, is that the side will have at least one extra match at the games and playing against Palestine will be a good experience for the youngsters.
Although a negative of this is that in the groups of five, games against the bottom side will not count as the coach explained “With five teams in the group, our result against the bottom team will not be counted if we have to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams, making it more difficult for us.”
Meanwhile, it took a long time to happen but the groups are finally finalised and we can confirm that Hong Kong will start their Asian Games campaign against Laos on the 10th August. This will be followed by Taiwan on the 15th August, then Palestine on the 17th August before finishing up against hosts Indonesia on the 20th August.