Schoolboys ready to face China's best

Schoolboys ready to face China's best

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Hong Kong schoolboy stars (from left) Dixon Lam, Summer Shek, Monkey Lo, Wong Sheung-choi and Eric Ching
Hong Kong schoolboy stars (from left) Dixon Lam, Summer Shek, Monkey Lo, Wong Sheung-choi and Eric Ching
Photo: Kevin Kung
Twenty young footballers will represent Hong Kong at the All China Secondary Schools Students' Games in Bautao, Inner Mongolia, which begin next week. They won their final warm-up match - an 80-minute friendly - 4-2 against a team of former Hong Kong inter-school representatives at Po Kong Village Road Football Pitch last week.

Defender Monkey Lo Tin-ho and striker Wong Sheung-choi both played for Hong Kong at the last Games in Changsha two years ago. Monkey, a Form Five student from Yan Chai Hospital Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School, said it was a tough experience for Hong Kong players.

"The weather in Changsha was very hot and humid at the time. Sometimes the temperature there can reach 40 degrees Celsius. The playing conditions were very difficult and exhausting," he said.

Hong Kong finished 12th out of the 13 teams at the 2009 Games. But they could have finished in the top eight. "We just failed to win a key match against a team who were of a similar standard to us. If we had won it, we would have finished among the top eight teams. But we missed out," said Monkey.

He said he is happy to team up with schoolmate and fellow South China youth team player Eric Ching Man-chun - a goalkeeper - at the Games.

The duo form an important partnership in defence for Hong Kong. "There is better communication between our goalkeepers and defenders now than at the beginning, which helps us in matches," said Eric, a Form Five student.

"Yet we still have room for improvement in playing together as a team because we are from different schools. We only knew a couple of other players before joining the team."

Eric's talents as a goalkeeper were recognised when he helped his school team regain the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Tournament title in March.

Newcomer Dixon Lam Tsun-wai, of TWGHs Lo Kon Ting Memorial College, is excited to be on the Hong Kong team. "I am grateful to have this chance," said the Form Five student, who will battle it out with Eric for the right to play in goal. "It is up to the coaches to select who will play against which team," Dixon said.

Coach Suen Shui-keung has been impressed by the students' improvement in practice matches, but he is also worried that not needing to take part in the qualifying stages of the Games may affect the team's performance. He said: "Hong Kong and Macau, the two special administrative regions, did not have to play in preliminary qualifiers earlier this year and directly entered the final stage of the Games. It is good that we are in the finals without playing the tough qualifiers, but it also means we are unfamiliar with many of our opponents."

Hong Kong team captain and star midfielder Summer Shek Tsz-fung said they would be tested right from the start of the Games. "Our rivals won't give us time to get settled. We may end up conceding goals early on, so solving this problem will be the top priority," the Form Five student from HKRSS Tai Po Secondary School said.

Hong Kong's soccer, basketball and volleyball teams all leave for the Students' Games on Friday.

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