Organisers hope for fine weather during Lunar New Year Cup

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 3:51am

Organisers are praying for good weather in the hope that more fans turn up to support the home team in tomorrow's China Mobile Satellite Communications Lunar New Year Cup.

A League XI, comprising mostly top expatriates from the Hong Kong First Division, will meet Busan IPark, of South Korea, with Shanghai East Asia taking on Muangthong United, of Thailand, in the other match at Hong Kong Stadium. The two winners will contest the final on Wednesday.

So far 2,000 tickets have been sold for the two-day tournament. But Ken Ng Kin of Kitchee Sports Management, one of the two organisers, is optimistic more tickets will be sold at the door.

"The League XI features many quality foreign players and are even stronger than the Hong Kong team," said Ng. "They have a good chance against the Koreans. Although we cannot do too much about the weather, I can promise this is going to be an exciting match that fans should not miss.

"The advance booking is not very encouraging, but I know Hongkongers are used to buying tickets on match day and therefore I am not too worried."

Midfielder Manoel de Silva, of South China, who also played for the League XI at same tournament in 2008, said he always enjoyed playing in the Lunar New Year event.

"The atmosphere is good because this is a big festival," said the Brazilian. "The fans will be cheering for us and we can play our best soccer in front of them. That's why we won the Lunar New Year Cup in 2008. We have a very good team this year and also a good coach, who has asked us to play beautiful soccer."

Of the three overseas teams, East Asia will be bringing their best squad, including their two new overseas signings - centre-half Iban Cuadrado, a product of the famous Barcelona soccer academy who has spent most of his career at Real Murcia in the Spanish Second Division, and striker Chris Dickson, who started his career at Charlton Athletic and played in the Cyprus First Division last season.