The Blue Tigers have won only one of their last seven meetings
The Indian National Football team will face Hong Kong in their final step towards the AFC Asian Cup 2023. After a win over Cambodia, and a comeback against Afghanistan, India are well prepared to face Hong Kong. Igor Stimac’s men will bank on the outstanding support of the fans at Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata to get three more points.
India left it late against Afghanistan as Chhetri’s 86th-minute opener was cancelled out by Zubayr Amiri within two minutes. Wonderboy Sahal Abdul Samad stepped up at the right time in the first minute of stoppage time to restore their lead. The Blue Tigers faced Hong Kong last in an international friendly in 2010. Stimac’s boys will want to overcome the defeat that they suffered back then and go one step closer to the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
Head To Head
India have locked horns with the 147th-ranked side on 15 different occasions before. These games consisted mostly of Merdeka Tournament fixtures. Accordingly, the fixtures from 1993 onwards have been recounted. The last time these two sides met in the AFC Asian Cup was in 1964 as India ran out 3-1 winners. Ahead of the quintessential clash on Tuesday, let’s take a look at the past five meetings between India and Hong Kong.
India 1-2 Hong Kong (May 11, 1993)
India first met Hong Kong in the Asian Games in 1958 and unleashed a 5-2 drubbing. However, they met again in 1993 at the highest level of international football i.e. the FIFA World Cup. India had withdrawn itself from the 1990 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. But, they hadn’t backed down from the 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and decided to participate.
The Blue Tigers were placed in Group D alongside South Korea, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Hong Kong. From 7 May 1993 to 15 May 1993, India played four matches against the aforementioned teams in Beirut. Lee Kin-Wo opened the proceedings in the 15th minute but India’s Bhupinder Thakur equalised in the 54th minute. Loh Wai-Chi had other plans as he restored the Strength’s lead in the 59th minute and Hong Kong had the last laugh.
Hong Kong 1–3 India (June 13, 1993)
The reverse fixture of the 1993 World Cup Qualifiers turned out to be in favour of the Blue Tigers as they ran out winners. I.M Vijayan scored a brace and Bhupinder Thakur got on the scoresheet again as India pumped three past an overwhelmed Hong Kong side. Hong Kong could only score once through Wong Chi Keung and finished their campaign in third place.
Hong Kong 2–2 India (February 18, 2006)
It was a better showing from India when they met ‘The Strength’ again in an international friendly in 2006. The hosts went into an early lead but India bounced back in the second half. Strikes from Sayed Rahim Nabi and skipper Bhaichung Bhutia were enough to draw the Blue Tigers level.
Hong Kong drew the first blood when Gerard Ambassa Guy scored a splendid goal in the third minute. The buoyant home side struck again in the 17th minute to increase their lead through Law Chun Bong. After a lacklustre first half, India’s efforts paid off in the 61st minute when Sayed Rahim Nabi scored off a superb shot.
Minutes later Indian captain Bhutia converted a penalty in the 67th minute to level the score for the visitors. With neither team being able to break the deadlock, the match ended in a stalemate.
Hong Kong 2–1 India (January 14, 2009)
India let in a last-minute goal to go down 1-2 to Hong Kong in this international friendly at the Hong Kong Stadium. Midfielder Yiu Chung Au Yeung opened the scoring for the home side in the 70th minute before Blue Tigers’ captain Bhaichung Bhutia equalized 10 minutes later. But in the end, it was the home team that had the last laugh with defender Ng Wai Chiu finding the target in the 90th minute to seal the victory.
The result was a huge disappointment for India, considering that Hong Kong were 10 places below them at 152. Additionally, Bob Houghton’s men had already made it to the 2011 Asian Cup after winning the AFC Challenge Cup.
India 0-1 Hong Kong (October 04, 2010)
Sunil Chhetri is the only member of the current squad who featured in this slender loss to Hong Kong last time out. The two sides met in 2010 and ‘The Strength’ got the better of the Blue Tigers once again. India coach Bob Houghton was missing several regulars for this clash at Pune’s Balewadi Complex.
Hong Kong started well, but it was India who grabbed control of the match soon after. The Blue Tigers had ample opportunities to take the lead, but forwards Sunil Chhetri and Abhishek Yadav squandered chances. Hong Kong eventually ran away with the game when Chun Sui Kei slipped the ball into the path of attacking midfielder Li Haiqiang for what was to be the only goal of the game in the 76th minute. India must look to avoid past mistakes and go all out to avoid slipping up once more.