UNCERTAINTY over Russia's quality of players and the country's complex political background has led organisers to sign Poland as their replacements for next month's Carlsberg Cup Chinese New Year tournament.
Poland, who just failed to qualify for this summer's European Championship in England, will join Sweden, Japan and the Hong Kong League XI for the February 19 and 22 event at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Organisers had been informed that Russia, whose national squad is almost entirely made up of players from Moscow Spartak, would not release their players for the local tournament because of their interest in the European Cup.
There was also concern from Russian coaches that their players would be called up for too much international duty while they prepare for the European Championship.
'So, obviously, a very complex situation exists at present between the Russian Football Union and the professional clubs not to mention the complex political situation as well, within the country,' said Carlsberg PR manager Derek Currie. 'We have decided in the best possible interest of the tournament that it was not feasible to accept Russia under these uncertain circumstances and they will be replaced by Poland.' An equaliser two minutes from time against France in Paris in their 1-1 draw last August cost Poland a place in Euro '96.
Lunar New Year Cup