Hong Kong football fans are celebrating their team’s goalless draw against China in the World Cup qualifier match that was played on Tuesday.
The draw ensures that Hong Kong remains in contention to advance to the next round of the games that would determine participation in the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament to be held in Russia.
During the much-anticipated match at the Mongkok Stadium Tuesday night, the home team played with grit and dedication in front of a sea of red shirts chanting “We are Hong Kong”.
Following the draw, which is seen as a victory by local fans, the Hong Kong team will pocket a cash bonus of HK$800,000.
Long queues were seen outside the Mongkok Stadium three hours before the official kick-off of the match at 8 pm. A red flag was hoisted by the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) outside the stadium, signaling it was a sell-out game for the 6,071-seater stadium.
Despite warnings from the HKFA, some members of the audience booed when China’s national anthem was played, while some opted to display signs stating “BOO”, Apple Daily reported.
The crowd observed a minute of silence for the victims of the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks.
The Chinese team had a golden opportunity to forge ahead on the 27th minute, when Wu Xi’s cross from the right-side was powered towards the Hong Kong goal through a Yang Xu header. However, the chance was missed as the ball hit a crossbar.
On the 30th minute, Hong Kong almost took the lead when striker Jaimes Mckee met a Alessandro Ferreira cross and saw his header hitting the woodwork.
China almost opened the score on the 77th minute due to a Yu Hai shot, but it was blocked by Hong Kong keeper Yapp Hung-fai. The China player then pounced on the rebound but saw his effort hitting the goal-post on the second attempt.
Ultimately, the two sides failed to score any goals. A standing ovation was given to the Hong Kong players at the final whistle, while supporters of the China team were seen leaving the stadium quickly.
On the same night, Qatar secured qualification for the next round as the leader of Group C beat Bhutan 3:0, snatching the maximum 18 points from six games.
China which now has 11 points from six games and Hong Kong, a place above China with 14 points from seven games, will have to compete for the four available slots for the best runners-up from all the qualifying groups.
Hong Kong’s poor goal difference means they face a tough challenge. They must win the group match in Qatar next March in order to stand a chance.
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