Hong Kong dent China's World Cup hopes

2015-11-17 17:55
soccer ball (File)

Hong Kong - Hong Kong dented China's World Cup qualifying hopes and put 2022 hosts Qatar into the next round with a 0-0 draw in front of rowdy home fans who again booed their shared anthem on Tuesday.

After teams around Asia held a sombre moment's silence for the Paris attacks, Australia thumped Bangladesh 4-0 and Saudi Arabia put 10 past East Timor, but Japan were less convincing in a 2-0 win over Cambodia.

Hong Kong weren't one of the night's winners but they celebrated as if they were after holding China to a goalless draw which kept them ahead of their rivals in Group C, while putting leaders Qatar through.

Fans jeered the "March of the Volunteers" anthem, which the semi-autonomous territory shares with its giant neighbour, while some turned their backs and held up signs saying "Boo".

With two games to go, China are now scrambling to reach the third round as one of the four best-performing second-placed teams as they lie third, and also trail rivals among the other seven groups on points.

Failure to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia would be a big blow to China, who have successfully reformed their corruption-plagued domestic league and are tipped to be planning a bid to host the competition.

Their fate will not generate much sympathy among fans in Hong Kong, which was gripped by "Umbrella movement" democracy rallies last year in defiance of Beijing's rule.

Qatar, the 2022 hosts, became the first to progress and simultaneously earned a spot at the 2019 Asian Cup in UAE when they beat whipping-boys Bhutan 3-0 to take their 100 percent record to six wins in six games.

Elsewhere evergreen striker Tim Cahill hit a hat-trick as Australia fired all four of their goals past Bangladesh in the first half in a match played under heavy security following safety warnings in Dhaka.

Captain Mile Jedinak also got on the scoresheet as the Asian champions went provisionally top of Group B before the result of Jordan's away match against Kyrgyzstan later.

In Phnom Penh, Japan had an own goal from Cambodia's Laboravy Khoun to thank before AC Milan's Keisuke Honda got their second in the final minute in an unexpectedly tough evening.

Mohammed Al Sahlawi belted five goals past East Timor including two penalties as Saudi Arabia ran riot in Dili to cement their position at the top of Group A.

And Malaysia, playing in front of an empty stadium as punishment for crowd trouble in an earlier qualifier, lost 2-1 to UAE -- an improvement at least from the record 10-0 loss the last time they met.

Read more on:    hong kong  |  china  |  soccer


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