Silver-lined success lure for Dickies
Instant-Dict players can grab a $640,000 windfall after club bosses promised an additional $300,000 cash bonus as incentive for Hong Kong's perennial runners-up to end their Cup drought in tomorrow's Viceroy Cup final against South China at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Instant-Dict, without a single trophy after five years in the top flight, are bent on achieving their first success for what will be the start of three of the most important weeks in the club's history.
'It will be the seventh time we have competed in a Cup final and I think it's high time that we won one,' said Instant-Dict executive director Ken Ng.
'As a club, we're entering a very critical part of the club's history. It's all about pride and honour,' he said.
Instant-Dict's bonus prize money being offered by British American Tobacco (BAT) amounts to $340,000, taking into account their earlier round wins, and with club bosses providing another $300,000 incentive, Instant-Dict players could end up pocketing about $32,000 a man.
'All the prize money will go to the players' pocket and not be assimilated by the club. They will earn the bonus if we come through and win,' said Ng, who with Thomas Tam Wai-tong contributed $150,000 each towards the bonus.
Instant-Dict were in a confident mood yesterday as they prepared for their third straight Viceroy Cup final.
They lost the previous two Cup finals - to South China two years ago and then Sing Tao last season - and are in no mood for another defeat.
The Dickies and South China had goalless draws in both rounds of the league but another draw is not possible tomorrow as extra-time 'golden goal' and then a penalty-kick shootout will be used should there be a deadlock.
After the Viceroy Cup final, the territory's most prestigious knock-out trophy, the Dickies travel to Thailand for a week's training in preparation for the First Division league play-off on May 30 against South China.
They finish the season by taking on Italian Serie A champions AC Milan in an exhibition match on June 7 which is likely to include star strikers Roberto Baggio and George Weah, veteran defender Franco Baresi and guest star player Jean-Pierre Papin of Bayern Munich.
'We are planning to play against the top two teams in the Thai league. We will be doing some training on the beach and the players will be gearing up for the league play-off.
'I think the players know the importance of the league play-off and that we aren't going on a holiday,' Ng said.
Instant-Dict are confident Baggio, Weah, Baresi and Papin would start for AC Milan as the recently-crowned Serie A champions make their second appearance in the territory inside 12 months.
They played South China in last year's exhibition at the Hong Kong Stadium winning 2-1 before a crowd of more than 13,000 spectators.
'Barring a last-minute call-up by the Italian national squad, Baggio is definitely coming. He has committed himself to touring in Asia and it looks at the moment that his chances of appearing in Hong Kong are bright,' Ng said.
Meanwhile, Instant-Dict have sent a letter to the Recreation for Sport and Culture Department after requests to have Chan Fat-chi's testimonial match as a curtain-raiser for the league play-off on May 30 were turned down by Wembley International, managers of the Hong Kong Stadium.
The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) are likely to put back the dates for their Asian World Cup qualifying home matches against Thailand and South Korea at the Hong Kong Stadium because of next March's Rugby World Sevens.
The Rugby World Sevens will take place from March 29-31 and that means it won't be possible for the HKFA to stage any of their qualifiers during that period.
HKFA chief executive officer Vincent Yuen said they have several options.
He said the qualifying matches could be held at Mongkok Stadium or at the new stadium at Siu Sai Wan (Chai Wan) or the match could be postponed until after March 31.
The Asian Group Six matches could be played before March 2 allowing the pitch a two-week break before for the Rugby World Sevens.
National players have urged the HKFA to appoint a full-time coach and provide long-term training for the squad for the World Cup qualifiers.
HKFA chairman Stewart Lee Leung-nang had said that he would like to keep the current national squad together for next year's tournament.