Joining of forces 'will not disrupt China build-up'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 June, 2007, 12:00am

China's preparations for the Asian Cup finals would not be affected by tomorrow's Reunification Cup match when they will form a joint team with Hong Kong, their manager said.

Shortly after arriving from their training base in Hebei province yesterday, the 25-member national squad trained at Hong Kong Stadium where they will face a Fifa World Stars team tomorrow in the final game of a three-match day of celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the handover.

'We have planned for this match for a long time and are happy to be invited to this special occasion,' said team manager Wei Shaohui. 'Even though it is an exhibition match, we still treat it as serious competition and part of our build-up for the Asian Cup. We know there will be six players from the Hong Kong team joining us for the match and it will be up to the coach to decide when and how long the Hong Kong players will stay on the field.'

Newly elected chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association, Brian Leung Hung-tak, said the mainlanders had asked that the Hong Kong players be limited to just 45 minutes' match time, either in the first or second half, so they could spend at least one half playing just as a China team. 'This is a good opportunity for players from China and Hong Kong to join hands in order to illustrate the special occasion of reunification,' said Leung.

China will meet Malaysia in their opening Asian Cup group match in Kuala Lumpur on July 10. Iran and Uzbekistan are the other teams in the group.

Meanwhile, Brazilian side Sao Paulo are confident of victory in their match against German giants Bayern Munich in tomorrow's second game at Hong Kong Stadium despite the fact that they will field only six of their first-team players.

'We are a young side, but the players are eager to perform,' said spokesman Marco Aurecio during their practice yesterday.

Bayern will feature their latest signing, Miroslav Klose, last year's top scorer at the World Cup finals.

Tomorrow's extravaganza will begin at 12.30pm with a match between celebrities from Hong Kong and China.