Karikari just waiting on passport to play
Forward Godfred Karikari is racing against time to play for Hong Kong in an international friendly against Taiwan later this month - the first match under new coach Ernie Merrick.
The Pegasus winger has yet to obtain his Hong Kong passport, but is still being drafted into Merrick's 27-member training squad.
'I was told the passport is ready and the only thing the Hong Kong Immigration Department needs is a confirmation letter from the Ghana government that I have given up my original nationality,' Karikari, 26, said yesterday.
'Normally, it can take some time, but I have written to the Ghana government, pressuring them to give me the papers as soon as possible.
'It's my dream to play for Hong Kong at international level. I hope the good news can come soon so that I can be part of the team.'
Having spent more than seven years in Hong Kong with four different clubs, Karikari was first called up for last month's interport tournament against Guangdong. His powerful runs were a constant threat and he scored the second goal for Hong Kong before the visitors forced a 2-2 draw in the first leg.
Since the interport is not a full international tournament, players did not need to hold Hong Kong passports. Jaimes McKee and Jack Sealy, who played with Karikari in the interport, have not been considered for the Taiwan match as they still need some time before their Hong Kong passports are ready.
There will be three practice sessions on the next three Tuesdays before Merrick names his final 18-member squad for the Taiwan match, the first test for the ex-coach of former Australian League champions Melbourne Victory.
Also in the training squad are young bloods, such as Lau Cheuk-hin of Sham Shui Po and Sapling centre-half Tsang Chi-hau. Attacking midfielder Lau, 19, caught Merrick's eyes during Sham Shui Po's 1-0 win over Sapling in the League Cup.
There are new call-ups, including Huang Yang and Liang Zicheng, both of champions Kitchee, and Chan Ming-kong of league leaders Pegasus. Pegasus have six players in the squad, while traditional powerhouses South China have eight, the highest number.