(File photo) Vissel Kobe’s Gotoku Sakai (R) battles for the ball against Kitchee SC’s Cleiton (L) during the AFC Champions League Group J football match between Japan’s Vissel Kobe and Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC in Buriram on April 19, 2022. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)
HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Hong Kong celebrated a slice of history on Tuesday after reaching the Asian Cup for the first time since 1968.
The Chinese territory will play India later in the day in their final qualifier for next year’s regional showpiece but went through beforehand thanks to a 4-0 win for the Palestinians over the Philippines.
The big win sent the Palestinians through and they took several other teams with them including India and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong qualified despite the domestic league being put on hold after Covid cases surged in the city of 7.5 million people earlier this year.
There was also a Covid outbreak in the squad in India during recent qualifiers.
“We did it,” Hong Kong midfielder Wong Wai wrote on Instagram, while team-mate Leung Kwun-chung posted: “We are in the history.”
Next year’s Asian Cup was scheduled to be held in China but they pulled out of staging the tournament because of Covid.
Asian football chiefs are now looking for a new host.
Top regional sides including Japan, South Korea, Australia and reigning champions Qatar had already qualified, as have China.
© Agence France-Presse