Hong Kong: Unfancied Hong Kong shocked a young Japan side in the final of the football at the East Asian Games on Saturday, winning 4-2 on penalties in front of a fanatical sell-out 40,000 crowd.
Defender Wong Chin Hung was the hero for Hong Kong, scoring the decisive penalty to send the home fans delirious after the game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes of stalemate.
The Japanese, represented by their under-20 team, took the lead as early as the 22nd minute at a vociferous and partisan Hong Kong Stadium, defender Taisuke Muramatsu scoring unchallenged from close range.
Japan had the quality but Hong Kong the spirit and the home support, and two minutes after half-time the East Asian Games hosts and surprise finalists were level, substitute striker Chan Siu Ki heading home from close range.
Chan, Hong Kong’s star player, was reportedly rushed back from training with English Premier League side Spurs especially for the match, which neither team really deserved to win in normal time or the 30 minutes extra period.
Unheralded Hong Kong had disposed of North and South Korea on the way to their unexpected appearance in the final.
Earlier, in a game played in a strong spirit of camaraderie, South Korea beat neighbours North Korea 4-2 on penalties to take the bronze football medal after the match had finished the 90 minutes 1-1.
Keeper Kim Min-Kyu was the hero for the South, saving two penalties including the North’s fourth kick, which the referee ordered to be taken three times because Kim had come too far off his line.
South Korean striker Go Min-Gi, who scored the opener against the run of play in the 24th minute, admitted playing the North had special meaning.
“You saw when the players were injured they were helping each other a lot,” he said.
“We are like friends because we speak the same language, but we also have a sad feeling because we are the same nation, so it’s a bit awkward.
“We also talk to each other on the pitch, we are like friends.”
The East Asian Games, which feature nine teams and 22 sports, finish Sunday.
China lead the overall medals table, followed by Japan and South Korea.