Hong Kong’s qualifying campaign began with a frustrating draw away to Cambodia on the first match day in what was Mixu Paatelainen’s first competitive game in charge. Both sides will be looking to move past that result when they renew acquaintances on Tuesday night under the floodlights at Hong Kong Stadium.
“I think we’re a better team today than we were then,” Paatelainen said. “I think we play better, I think our defending is better, I think we have gelled in a little bit. Also, we know exactly what Cambodia are all about. It was very early for our players to play apart from those who play abroad, to play in Cambodia. Only one official match before that. From that respect we are more ready.”
That 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh in September was the first time that Hong Kong had failed to beat Cambodia, having won their previous five meetings, a run dating back to 1957. It was not the flying start that the new coach was looking for.