Full-strength Brazil book HK date

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 12:00am

Local side to tackle world champs in Lunar New Year match

The game is on. Star-studded world favourites Brazil will become the most glamorous national side ever to appear in the SAR after the five-time world champions were signed to make their debut in the Carlsberg Cup next month.

Brazil's match on February 9 on the first day of the Chinese New Year will be a first for Hong Kong fans and will easily top any previous national team who have played here, including a full national England side, who narrowly defeated now-defunct local club Golden 1-0 before Euro 96.

The Hong Kong Football Association has refused to divulge information on the deal, although the Post has learned that the boys from Brazil were signed late on Sunday night and have been offered in excess of US$1 million in appearance money, plus airfares and accommodation. An official announcement will be made on Thursday.

As reported by the Post last week, the match will be part of the HKFA's 90th anniversary celebrations and will also fall on the Fifa international match date when a number of World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies will be played.

It is also understood that the contract would guarantee Brazil sending a full team, packed with their superstar players, including World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. Barring injury or illness, stars such as Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos, AC Milan's Kaka, Arsenal's Giberto Silva and Kleberson from Manchester United could also make an appearance.

The showpiece will not clash with Barcelona or Real Madrid's fixtures, making it highly likely that Hong Kong fans will get to watch Ronaldinho and Ronaldo in action.

Brazil, who are coached by Carlos Alberto Parreira, will be the only overseas team competing in this year's Carlsberg Cup, traditionally a four-team tournament.

The South American giants are being lined up to play against either the Hong Kong national side or a Hong Kong League XI.

Sources said their opponents were likely to be the Hong Kong national side, who retained their Interport title against Guangdong on Sunday, and were looking to improve their Fifa world ranking of 133.

The HKFA admitted that Brazil were being signed, although 'one or two things' needed to be ironed out before the world's favourite team could take their place at Hong Kong Stadium. 'We are still in the process of finalising a lot of details. So we won't have any announcement until Thursday. There's nothing more to comment on this one. Hopefully there will be a press conference,' said HKFA secretary Martin Lam Chun-ping. The Brazilians were last near these shores when they played to a goalless draw against the Chinese national side two years ago across the border in Guangzhou.

The Hong Kong match is being promoted by Pro Events, which was responsible for bringing Manchester United and an under-20 Brazilian national team to Hong Kong in 2001. The following year, the local promoters were successful in staging a friendly between Brazil and Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

Brazil retained their number one position on the Fifa rankings ahead of France for a third year and remain one of the most sought-after teams in the world.

Earlier, it was reported that the HKFA was having trouble finding teams to take part in the Carlsberg Cup because of the timing as February 9 is Fifa Day.

The date also clashes with several World Cup qualifying matches in Asia involving both Japan and South Korea.