Dickies' new boy fails fitness test

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 December, 1998, 12:00am

Instant-Dict midfielder Velimir Crljen will miss Thursday's First Division game against Rangers after becoming the first new foreign signing to fail the mandatory fitness test.

The Croatian completed the 3,000-metre test within the set limit of three minutes - the time all First Division players must pass if they are to be registered - but he was helped over the line for more than 100 metres by Instant-Dict coaches Leung Sui-wing and Ian Baird.

Crljen, who was signed from Singapore Armed Forces and arrived here last week, was later told by Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) officials that he had contravened the rules.

Instant-Dict officials, however, complained that HKFA officials had arrived 20 minutes late for the test, leaving Crljen cold and nervous.

'It was not fair to the player. It was cold and the rain was coming down. He spent 20 minutes warming up hoping the FA officials would turn up,' said Leung.

Three foreign players - all established Hong Kong footballers - have failed the test in the past, but Crljen has the dubious distinction of failing the test as a new overseas signing. Crljen will take the test next week after telling Instant-Dict officials he was too exhausted to take the test again today.

Instant-Dict's other new Croatian signing, Ivica Raguz, the 1996 Singapore Player of the Year, passed the test and will play in Thursday's game.

Instant-Dict are fourth in the table on eight points from five matches.

Rangers, who crushed Golden 6-1 last Saturday, also have eight points but have played two games more.