The Hong Kong men's football team on Wednesday suffered a 4-0 defeat to Japan in the semifinals at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, meaning they will play for bronze.
Still, thanks to their historic run, the team captured the imagination of fans watching the match live in various venues here in Hong Kong.
Japan striker Shun Ayukawa opened the scoring in the semifinal on the 23rd minute, slotting the ball home after the SAR's Sun Ming-him miscued a clearance.
The first half was otherwise evenly matched as a high-pressing Hong Kong side limited opportunities for their opponents.
But Japan dominated possession after the break.
Shota Hino doubled the lead with a header from close range on the 54th minute after goalkeeper Tse Ka-wing tipped a shot from Kohshiro Sumi.
Yota Komi scored Japan's third 20 minutes later after picking defender Christian Jojo's pocket, and Hino wrapped up the scoring with a curler from the left on the 85th minute.
Hong Kong next play either Uzbekistan or South Korea in the bronze medal match on Saturday.
Many local fans watched the match against Japan in dozens of shopping malls around town, voicing support for the Hong Kong team that were making their first-ever semifinal appearance at an Asian Games.
In Causeway Bay, fans watched the game live on a huge outdoor screen.
“It's not about winning or losing. It’s already a great achievement that the team has reached the semifinal,” a woman surnamed Wu said.
“The team has already showcased their ‘Hong Kong Spirit’."
A man surnamed Kan said, “As long as they fight till the last second, I’ll support them till the last moment.”
That view was echoed by a fan surnamed Ngan who was watching the match at Lok Fu Place.
“I think they show their passion and they’ve done their best to commit to the match. We should be very proud of them,” he said.
Michael Chan, who is also a referee and has been following the Hong Kong team for more than 10 years, expressed optimism towards the future.
“I think we can see a difference of hope during the Asian Games. Especially this is the Under-23 Team. I hope that they can bring more success when they become the first team of Hong Kong."
The Hong Kong Football Association, meanwhile, reserved a cinema theatre in Causeway Bay for fans to watch the match. Hundreds of tickets, priced at HK$1 each, were sold out within minutes the night before.
Last updated: 2023-10-04 HKT 20:52