Organisers are racing against time to secure quality overseas teams for February's Lunar New Year Cup tournament - failing which, they could opt to shelve the popular tournament for a year.
"We have given ourselves next week as the deadline for finalising the teams," said South China Athletic Association convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing. "We have some teams on the list, but want to know if there are better teams available. We will then decide how to proceed, with an option being to not hold it next year."
The Hong Kong Football Association has given responsibility for the organisation of the tournament to South China for the last two years, and the Caroliners have joined hands with rivals Kitchee for the coming edition.
It is believed Guizhou Renhe of China and reigning Thailand champions Muangthong United have agreed to come.
Lo revealed earlier they were interested in newly crowned Asian Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, but the K-League side turned down the offer as they have committed to a European training camp during the Chinese New Year period.
With two overseas teams in the line-up, the tournament would also feature a domestic League XI formed by expatriates playing in Hong Kong and possibly a South China-Kitchee joint team. "We want to feature the Hong Kong national team for the tournament as they need more international exposure," said Lo. "But unfortunately they have to travel to Uzbekistan for an Asian Cup qualifying match on February 6 and the Chinese New Year is just four days later. They won't have time for recovery."
Three overseas teams took part in the tournament last year - Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea, Shimizu S-Pulse of Japan and China's Guangzhou R&F - while the hosts were represented by South China. The Koreans lifted the title after defeating S-Pulse 5-1 in the final.