Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hong Kong's team aims at FIFA's top 100 ranking

Through the efforts of the Hong Kong Football Association in the last six years, the autonomous Special Administrative Region of the PRC is starting to make football headway in the region. According to national team coach Lai Sun Cheung, Hong Kong could break into the FIFA top-100 rankings if the team kept on producing good results at the Asian level. “Ours is a young team. The average age of our players ranges between 25 and 26. We have not extremely well, but have performed well in the last few years. Signs are good for the future,” an optimistic Cheung told The Peninsula as his team got set to play hosts Qatar in an Asian Cup 2007 qualifying match.

“When I took over in 2000, we were ranked somewhere in the 140s. We have managed to improve our world ranking considerably. You can only improve your rating if you perform well and do that consistently. We are hopeful that we can continue the good work,” Cheung added. “For youngsters in Hong Kong, football is a passion with them. They love this sport and play the game with a lot of enthusiasm. Having said that, I feel Hong Kong football has a long way to go. We need to plan aggressively to get the positive or desired results.

“We have to have better facilities. Playing pitches are that good in Hong Kong. We must take the game to the schools, colleges and the districts. This way we can tap the good talent we see out there (in Hong Kong). This is what I would do if I had the authority back home. I would make great efforts to help kids learn the right way. I am 56-years-old. I have played football all my life. Football is my life. I played 77 times for the national team for about 10 years. I am still keen to see Hong Kong rise at the Asian level,” he said.

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