One of the footballing pioneers in Asia, Hong Kong were among the game's front-runners in the 1950's and 1960's, when they came away as the third-placed team in the inaugural AFC Asian Cup in 1956 before claiming fourth place in the 1964 edition. They also boast one of the oldest professional domestic leagues in Asia, with clubs such as South China among Asia's best known sides in their golden era.
The past decades saw football go down in Hong Kong while their team descended from one of the continental competitors to regional tournament whipping boys. A fifth-placed finish in the 1968 Asian Cup was their last appearance in the continental competition finals and since then they have failed to make an impact on the international stage.
Despite the slump, the footballing passion is always evident across the island and the team have proved that they are always capable of pulling off a stunner against Asia's big boys. A historic 2-1 triumph over regional powers Thailand in qualifying for the 2004 Asian Cup had Hong Kong's confidence soaring. The result over the side that reached the final stage of Asian qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ had many reminiscing about an even more historic result - a 2-1 victory over China PR in the preliminary round of qualifiers for Mexico 1986 that catapulted the side into the regional knockout rounds.
But the success proved short-lived and it seemed that they were far from capable of changing their status as the continental outsiders, having eventually been knocked out of the qualifying campaign. Shortly afterwards, they did no better in the Germany 2006 qualifying campaign as they lost all four meetings with group favourites China and contenders Kuwait, only grabbing six points with two victories over Malaysia.
Hong Kong made a winning start to qualifying for South Africa 2010, knocking out debutants Timor Leste 11-3 on aggregate in the opening round. But Turkmenistan proved too big a mountain to climb for the East Asians, who went out after losing the two-legged contest 3-0 on aggregate.