Valley likely to escape punishment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 September, 1999, 12:00am

Champions Happy Valley may be spared a hefty fine from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for failing to play their Asian Club Championship first-round matches.

The AFC warned Happy Valley that they would be fined after the local side tried, unsuccessfully, to change the dates for their clash against Vietnamese side The Cong.

Happy Valley were unable to play the home-and-away tie on August 21 and September 4 because the latter date clashed with the league opener against South China, which Happy Valley won 2-0. Both the Hong Kong and Mongkok Stadiums were not available for competition before then.

The AFC argued that the fixtures for the Asian Club Championship were made more than three months ago.

An AFC spokesman said Happy Valley's case would be heard at committee meeting next month.

'Personally, I don't think Happy Valley should be fined because it wasn't their fault. This is the same problem we have been having with the teams for the past few years. They want to change dates of their matches but can't,' the spokesman said.

'The AFC wants to see that these first-round matches are played on schedule.

'We want to make sure that these matches are played because we're are facing time constraints.

'We need to co-ordinate matches better in future so we don't have a repeat of the problems we have been having with the teams now,' he added.

In the past, South China and Sing Tao were fined between US$1,000 and US$2,000 for pulling out of competition at the last moment.

South China will play Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh in the second round of the Asian Cup-Winners' Cup as scheduled on October 2 and 16. South China drew a first-round bye.

Ho Chi Minh moved into the second round after defeating New Radiant of Maldives, 4-1 on aggregate.