Hong Kong are eyeing the Group B match against Malaysia in the Asian Cup qualifier as a potential three points in the bag as they look to make inroads towards reaching the finals in United Arab Emirates in 2019.
After a slow start in which they lost to Lebanon in their opening fixture in the group, Hong Kong caused a major upset as they held North Korea to a 1-1 draw in June. With a point in the bag, head coach Kim Pan-Gon is urging his side to take control of Tuesday's match against Malaysia and increased their points tally in the group.
"Yes, Hong Kong are the favourites. We are proactive and we try to dominate, we are an attacking side," said Kim in the pre-match press conference on Monday.
The 48-year-old South Korean has been in charge of Hong Kong national team since 2012 and has faced Malaysia a fair few times. Despite not winning a single one of the three matches that he has played against Malaysia, Kim remains very confdent heading into the fixture. He is labelled Malaysia as a less attractive opposition these days.
"Since I in charge of the national team, twice I came here to play with them. We drew two times. Quite impressed always, players skillful and aggressive. Very attacking side, really struggle for us last two games. But current team become more reactive, more defensive and less attractive. Something different than before," he added.
Meanwhile young midfielder Tan Chun Lok says his team is ready to face Malaysia despite their domestic season in Hong Kong still being in its infancy months. The former Peterbrough United and Northampton Town player warns that his team are slowly but surely finding their feet again.
"This is a really important game for us. So far we only have one point in the group and against Malaysia, we have to get three points. We went to Singapore to play a friendly game, it's still early in the season for us so everyone is still finding our match fitness. But after training for a week, everyone look sharp and ready for the game," said Tan.
Tan is only one of three players in the squad that Kim has called up for this round of international fixtures as the latter seek to rely on experience to help them in Tuesday's match at Hang Jebat Stadium.