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Paatelainen’s tactics give Hong Kong their first win

Hong Kong: Mixu Paatelainen’s decision to field three attacking forwards paid off as Hong Kong ended their four-game winless run in the Asian Qualifiers after defeating Cambodia 2-0 in Group C on Tuesday.

James Ha’s volley separated the sides in the first half before Roberto Orlando Affonso Junior’s late goal sealed an emphatic home victory for Hong Kong to revive their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualification hopes.

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Hong Kong’s qualifying campaign began with a frustrating draw away to Cambodia on Matchday One in what was Paatelainen’s first competitive game in charge.

The East Asian side suffered consecutive losses against Islamic Republic and Iran and Iraq but Paatelainen was pleased the tactics that the team had worked on since the Bahrain stalemate paid off.

“The goal was excellent. It was more or less what we wanted, how we wanted to force Cambodia problems," said Paatelainen.

“This was the first time we have played like that under my coaching, so it was a good start.

“Whether we play like that in the future is a different story, but I felt that we did put Cambodia under a lot of pressure, with three big strong centre-forwards up front instead of wingers and nippier guys, if you like, and went for it."

“Those players who played up front are known as out-and-out strikers and maybe defending isn’t their strongest asset.

“The way they did their defending as well was commendable, that shows how much every player wants to work for the team. It’s fantastic.

“Of course you can improve, there’s always room for improvement, but really happy with everyone’s commitment.”

Felix Dalmas meanwhile, praised his players for their fighting spirit after the Angkor Warriors suffered their fourth defeat of the Asian Qualifiers.

“Congratulations to Hong Kong, it’s a good victory for them,” said Dalmas.

“Our players tried and I am really proud of the way they played. Even when we were a man down, still going forward, still trying to control the game, still trying to follow through with the philosophy.

“We knew that Hong Kong have very strong (naturalised) Brazilian players and they do make a difference but I feel like we fought through that and an away crowd. I’m very proud of the players, 100 percent.”

Photos: Hong Kong Football Association

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