Full house expected as big guns hit Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, 12:00am


Organisers are expecting a sell-out at Hong Kong Stadium today when the Barclays Asia Trophy makes a comeback after four years.

Aston Villa face Blackburn Rovers and Hong Kong champions Kitchee take on Chelsea at the 40,000-seat venue today.

Tickets for Saturday are already sold out and Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak insisted: 'There are only 4,000 tickets left [for today] and I am sure they will be gone when the tournament starts. I will be at the ticket office to wait for the moment when the last ticket is being sold.'

Andre Villas-Boas, the new Chelsea coach, said the tournament would be important as they prepare their title challenge this season.

'It's the second week of our Asia tour and we still have 15 days which are valuable to us before our first match in London,' he said. 'But we are not stopping and are training intensively and hopefully we can put our ideas across and the players are able to demonstrate their talents.'

The Portuguese coach rang the changes in their two previous matches in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, but only five substitutes are allowed in the Asia trophy.

'In this kind of weather and conditions this Asia tour is difficult,' he added, 'but I think most likely the players are able to respond.

'We went almost 90 minutes with John Mikel Obi and Branislav Ivanovic the other days because we assigned a logic of 60, 30 and 90. In the end we are able to bring a couple of our young boys across because we think this is valuable for them and for the help they have given. But you will see tomorrow a different plan.

'We are going to use the team that played 30 minutes against Thailand and they are going to get 60 minutes and a couple of them will get 90 minutes and a couple 30.'

The coach tried to deflect attention from forward Fernando Torres, who has failed to impress since his ?0m (HK$627m) arrival from Liverpool early this year. 'We don't want to focus on one player,' he said.

Alex McLeish, the new Aston Villa manager, refused to comment on his former boss, Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung Ka-sing, owner of Birmingham City.

But the former Blues manager was excited about the imminent arrival of French international Charles N'Zogbia from Wigan, saying the winger is 'a great addition to the squad as an explosive player that gives us a little bit of quality'