|Hong Kong faces Iraq in Basra for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Group C fixture
Hong Kong is set to face Iraq in Basra International Stadium in Basra, Iraq on Thursday evening for an all-important FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 Group C fixture. The match is due to kickoff at 7:00pm. (Basra, local time)
Hong Kong currently occupies the basement position in Group C, with a single point from its first two fixtures. The side first drew Cambodia 1:1 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, then suffered a 0:2 home defeat against Iran in the second game. Currently looking up on all the other sides in Group C, Hong Kong is in dire need for points in order to keep its qualification hopes alive.
The travelling Hong Kong party will be drizzled with regulars, including goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai, midfielder Huang Yang and striker Alexander Akande. In-form striker Alessandro Leonardo, who has four goals under his name so far in the new domestic season, will likely be counted on to spearhead Hong Kong’s attack. In defense, towering defender Andrew Russell will be trusted on to take care of things defensively, while veteran goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai will likely be the last line of defense for Hong Kong.
Hong Kong head coach Mixu Paatelainen believes the travelling squad to Iraq will be giving its outmost against the host in what is expected to be a very tough game.
“I think the squad is well-balanced in terms of position. I think there is also a good balance between old and young players,” said Paatelainen.
“Experienced players are very important for tough fixtures like the upcoming one against Iraq away. But it is also good to have youthful energy in the team. I am very happy with the squad and I am sure the players selected are ready to fight for the team and do everything for the Hong Kong jersey.”
At the time of writing, Iraq sits on the 79th spot in the FIFA World Ranking (published on 19th September 2019) and currently shares the same points with Hong Kong in Group C, while having a game in hand.
Coached by former Sampdoria player Srecko Katanec, Iraq drew Bahrain 1:1 away in its opening fixture in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 and should be pressing for a home victory when facing Hong Kong. Ali Adnan and Justin Meram, players who ply their trade in Major League Soccer (US) with Vancouver Whitecaps and Atlanta United respectively, started the game for Iraq against Bahrain and will likely play a big role against the visitors.