HKFA to review under-23 request

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 July, 1998, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) will next month discuss a call from Asia's top official to send an under-23 team to December's Asian Games in Bangkok.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is renewing its campaign to lobby for an under-23 rule on the soccer tournament at the Asian Games.

Peter Velappan, who is the AFC's general secretary, said he wanted the event to be a showcase for the continent's young talent.

The governing body is also concerned that the Games could take attention away from its own tournaments.

Acting HKFA general secretary Jackson Yu said Velappan's suggestion would be discussed at an HKFA council meeting on August 4.

Hong Kong coach Sebastiao Araujo was expected to field a full national side in the Asian Games and has said he will arrange an overseas training camp in November.

The Brazilian coach has also pencilled in an under-23 squad for the 2000 Sydney Olympics qualifiers and had hoped to take them to Brazil for training - but the plan was abandoned by the HKFA.

'The AFC is recommending that countries view this as an under-23 competition, but the final decision rests with them,' said Velappan.

'It is the choice of the associations which players they send. The AFC would like the Asian Games to be an under-23 tournament but the Olympic Council of Asia is not comfortable with that.

'This is an opportunity for countries to develop their sides for the Olympics in Sydney [which will be primarily for players under 23].

'Countries in the region should be concentrating on AFC tournaments and using events like the South East Asian Games, East Asian Games and Asian Games to build for the future.' Only a sprinkling of Asian players involved in France 98 competed in the 1994 Asiad in Hiroshima, which was won by Uzbekistan.