Winner-takes-all showdown kicks off

Winner-takes-all showdown kicks off

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Iran's Mahdi Rahimikhoygani (left) challenges Hong Kong's Yuen Sai-kit during their group match, which Iran won 5-0.
Iran's Mahdi Rahimikhoygani (left) challenges Hong Kong's Yuen Sai-kit during their group match, which Iran won 5-0.
Photo: SF&OC
Stiflingly hot conditions have sapped the energy of the Hong Kong boys' football team, who kick off today in a winner-takes-all battle with Indonesia for a quarter-final place at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing .

In their first match on Tuesday, the team held the top-ranked Saudi Arabia to an impressive 1-1 draw. But daytime temperatures of up to 40degrees Celsius have left at least five members of the 18-strong squad suffering from heatstroke.

The boys ran out of energy in their second match on Thursday, when they lost 0-5 to Iran.

Although they were not at their best, goalkeeper Tse Ka-wing had a fine match. He made several spectacular saves, especially in the second half.

If Hong Kong defeat Indonesia in their last match, and Saudi Arabia fail to beat Iran, then Hong Kong will qualify in second place behind Iran.

Victory over Indonesia will take Hong Kong above their rivals - despite both teams having the same number of points - because of our boys' head-to-head victory.

Coach Yeung Ching-kwong said the team's preparations had been badly affected by the heat. "We have to play every other day at the Games," he said.

"Having a group of players who are not physically fit to play has made things difficult. Of course, we have medical staff travelling with the Hong Kong team who are looking after the boys. Hopefully they will get well soon."

Apart from the struggle with heatstroke, several other players are battling injuries.

Yeung admits the win-at-all-costs showdown, and the scorching heat when they kick off today at 3pm, pose big challenges for the team.

"We're more or less at the same level as Indonesia," he says. "It'll be tough - it's all down to who plays best in the heat. I'm hoping we'll win."

Click to see our complete coverage and medals count for the 2013 Asian Youth Games.

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