The Hong Kong head coach also spoke on the threat of Sunil Chhetri.

Hong Kong play their final AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers against India at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on Wednesday. ‘The Strength’ (as Hong Kong are nicknamed) are currently leading Group D (with superior goal difference). All Jorn Andersen’s side need is a draw against India to win the group and secure AFC Asian Cup Qualification.

Ahead of their group deciding clash against the Blue Tigers, Hong Kong coach Jorn Andersen shared his thoughts on the match in the press conference.

Treating last game like a final

Manager Jorn Andersen knows his side are in a very comfortable situation, but still regards the last group game as a final. He said in the pre-match press conference: “For us the situation is positive. We didn’t expect too much when we came here, but we played two really good games and got six points. In this situation, things are really good. But both teams are yet to qualify for the Asian Cup and both still want points.

“That’s why I feel this game will be like a final. I hope many supporters will come to the stadium, we haven’t played a game in front of a large crowd in a long time. So that’ll be good for our team. We are motivated and we know that this will be an important game. It might be easy if the Philippines qualifying group is decided before our group or the group involving Malaysia.

“Malaysia will play before us, so we’ll know if they get six points or if others get more points than us. So we’ll keep notice of everything that happens before approaching our own,” he added.

Playing under different conditions

Hong Kong will play for the first time in an 8:30 PM IST kickoff after playing their last two games at the 5:00 PM kickoff. Addressing whether playing in that period, when the humidity is slightly less, can be an advantage for his side, the Norwegian said: “I think it’ll be better for both teams. This will be the first time we will get to play at night, the last two times we’ve played in the afternoon when it was 3-5 degrees hotter, but the team adapted very well.

“Now we must play at night, we have trained in the evening too so we’re used to the temperature in the evening. We will feel good tomorrow by playing towards the night.”

Crowd factor

Speaking about the factor of playing in front of a huge crowd with the majority supporting the hosts, Andersen said: “Yes it’ll be an advantage for India to play at home. To play in front of 40,000-50,000 spectators is not easy. But we have experienced players and we have a good team. We have good characters in our team and I feel we can solve this problem.”

Possible change in approach?

When asked about whether he’ll make any changes in approach or playing style against India as compared to what Hong Kong have followed in the last two games, the coach said: “We have to change some things in our style. We have analyzed India very well. I have seen the team play in this stadium twice and I know how they play. I have held meetings with my team, have overseen training and discussed in which way we want to play tomorrow.”

Sunil Chhetri and Matt Orr factor

Sunil Chhetri will be a major threat to the Hong Kong side as he’s in a rich vein of form with three goals in two games. Speaking about his plans for him, Andersen explained: “No, India have a good overall team. They have a strong team and are the strongest in the group in terms of FIFA Rankings.

“They are below the 150 region, while the other teams are above it. So of course they are the big favourite to win tomorrow. I have a good impression of the Indian team.”

“Sunil is a great player, we know that and we see that. But India have many more good players. We will try to find a good solution against everyone,” he added.

Hong Kong’s own striker Matthew Orr is also on fire, having scored in both the games. When asked about whether the game will revolve around the battle between the strikers, Jorn said: “I don’t think so! They are two really good strikers. Matt Orr has been performing really well at the moment and scoring a lot of goals.

“His attitude is good, but tomorrow we have to play India as an entire team. It’ll be a match between two sets of XI matched against the other and we’ll see how we deal with it,” he concluded.

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