The Hong Kong Under-18 girls' school football team did the city proud on November 27, winning a berth in the final round of the 14th National Student Sports Games. They defeated Inner Mongolia 1:0 in an upset victory during the knockout stage.
Though the Hong Kong players were dwarfed by the taller and more robust Inner Mongolia players, they fought hard all game and secured the victory. The only goal of the game was a low cross from powerful right winger and Jockey Club Ti-I College student Amanda Law On-kei, which rebounded off Mongolian defenders and rolled into the net during a goalmouth melee in the 34th minute.
Throughout the rest of the game, Hong Kong's tight defence kept the Mongolian forwards at bay and the gallant girls hung on to their 1:0 lead till the final whistle.
The stunning victory enabled Hong Kong to secure a ticket to the final four, to the delight of the team officials including head coach Chan Shuk-chi, who formerly coached the city's national women's team.
"The girls are fantastic and hardworking, and stood firm in face of mounting pressure. They have made history in girls' football competition," Chan said after the match.
"The pre-match encouraging remarks boosted our morale. The team members all adhere to our slogan - One Team One Dream We are Hong Kong ," said team captain Summer Hui Yee-sum of LST Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School.
Players from Ti-I College and Lam Tai Fai College formed the backbone of the Hong Kong girls' school team. They entered the knockout round after finishing second in Group G in the preliminary rounds after notching a first-up 4:1 win over Tibet Autonomous Region.
The preliminary rounds were held in Zhuhai from 23 November to 3 December and saw teams of 28 provinces vie for 11 spots in the final. The teams were divided into eight groups (A to H). The first two teams in each group qualified for the knockout stage.
Zhejiang was the top finisher in Group G after beating HK 5:1 and Tibet 1:0.
After defeating Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong beat Hebei 4:2 in an exciting penalty shootout. However, the game was just a formality as the result did not affect the status of the finalists. Goalie Jade Lau Tsz-yui of Fanling Lutheran Secondary School was the heroine of the match, saving one shot and scoring the last spot kick for the city.
"It is a rewarding and memorable experience for our talented SAR girls," said team manager Samuel Wan Wai-yin.
"The first remarkable success should prompt the authorities concerned to review the policy and future development of girls' football competition in the city," he added.
The final round will be held in Shandong, China, next August.