Butt gets another chance to win place in South China's AFC Cup squad

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 2011, 12:00am

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Nicky Butt has one more game to prove his worth to South China, who yesterday delayed the selection of their three foreign players for the Asian Football Confederation Cup until the weekend.

South China were expected to nominate their three overseas players for the region's second-tier tournament yesterday, but after hours of talks club officials decided to postpone the announcement until after Saturday's First Division game against Tuen Mun.

'We have decided to announce our selection after [Saturday],' a club spokesman said.

Steven Lo Kit-sing, convenor of South China who chaired the meeting yesterday, was unavailable for comment.

Lo has gambled heavily by bringing in Butt (pictured) and ex-Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman to strengthen South China's bid to make it through to the final of the AFC Cup and thus have a chance of playing in the Asian Champions League next season.

Neither player impressed during the Lunar New Year tournament when South China finished bottom of the four-team competition. But last week, Kezman rediscovered his touch in front of the goal, scoring a brace against Kitchee in a League Cup semi-final.

While Kezman is now believed to be a shoo-in for one of the three berths, the fate of Butt is still unclear. The 36-year-old Butt only played the last 10 minutes against Kitchee as he was nursing a calf strain. Also in the running are Joel Padilha, Giovane de Silva, Wellingsson de Souza and Tales Schutz.

South China and sister-club TSW Pegasus will represent Hong Kong in the AFC Cup which begins in the first week of March. A total of 32 teams from across Asia will play in the first round.

South China will meet Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia at Hong Kong Stadium on March 2 in their opening game.