HK woos Samba boys for Lunar New Year Cup

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 January, 2005, 12:00am

'With Brazil being number one, there are a lot of conditions'

Five-time world champions Brazil are being lined up to play a one-off match at Hong Kong Stadium during Chinese New Year, the Post has learned.

The Hong Kong Football Association admitted the boys from Brazil were being considered to appear in the SAR almost two years to the day since they played an exhibition match against China in Guangzhou. An announcement is expected to be made on Monday or Tuesday, although HKFA officials were tight-lipped on details.

HKFA secretary Martin Lam said Brazil were just one of 'many options' the association was considering for the annual Carlsberg Lunar New Year Cup. But the Post has learned a contract is being negotiated for the world's top-rated team to take their place here on February 9, the first day of the New Year.

The HKFA has been struggling to find world-class overseas teams to play in the Chinese New Year extravaganza and may have opted to invite the world champions only instead of bringing in three overseas teams like before.

Brazil's opponents have also not been finalised, but the Hong Kong League XI could take their place against the world's favourite team, who lifted their fifth title at the last World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002.

Lam admitted that negotiations between Brazil and Hong Kong had started last October. He said Brazil had turned down the HKFA's offer at that time because of the 'long travelling distance' required to play here. But it is understood that the HKFA has made an improved offer to the Brazilians, opting for a one-day event instead of a two-day tournament.

'We started negotiating or attempted to get a team from many countries, Brazil being one of them. Indeed, I myself flew over to London to attend the Fifa conference [World Player Award].

'Subsequently [at that time] our offer was rejected by Brazil because of the distance involved in travelling. It's very sensitive at the moment and we're still trying to finalise a team to come to Hong Kong. But I can't disclose who they are,' Lam said.

Asked whether the HKFA was still negotiating with Brazil, Lam said: 'All offers are open at the moment. There are options where it may not be a national team. We have opened the gates for the clubs as well because all clubs will be free on Fifa Day [February 9]. The options are still there but we hope to finalise everything by Monday or Tuesday by the latest.

'It's not easy bringing Brazil. We started the dialogue in October. With Brazil being the number one team in the world, there are a lot of conditions that we have to meet.'

Brazil's lineup could include World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho, former World Footballer of the Year Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, both of Real Madrid.