Indonesian club Persibo goes missing for AFC Cup soccer clash with Sun Hei
Sunray Cave Sun Hei may collect all three points without kicking a ball as their AFC Cup group F opponents, Persibo of Indonesia, were nowhere to be seen in Hong Kong last night.
The Indonesians were supposed to arrive on Sunday for tonight's tie at Mong Kok Stadium in accordance with normal practice.
But none of the team's players nor their officials turned up at a scheduled pre-match training and press conference last night.
"There were rumours Persibo would not come for the match, but we have been promised by the Indonesia Football Association that they will now arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow [today] morning," match commissioner Tetsu Hirai, from Japan, said last night.
"This is a very unusual situation but if they fail to turn up, the match will be forfeited and Sun Hei will be awarded a 3-0 victory."
According to the rules, if Persibo make it to at the stadium 90 minutes before the game to hand in their team list, they are still eligible to start the match.
Hirai said there might be some form of punishment from the Asian Football Confederation for the Indonesian side over their failure to show up for yesterday's press conference.
There have been reports that Persibo are in financial trouble and wanted to quit the regional cup competition. But they were forced to take part under pressure from the Indonesia Football Association.
Sun Hei coach Chiu Chun-man hopes the match will take place as the team need a good warm-up game for Sunday's crucial league encounter against BC Rangers.
Sun Hei are bottom of the First Division standings and need points if they are to have any hope of staving off relegation.
"It will be to our advantage if Persibo come today. They will be physically and mentally tired from their travel," he said. "We had a good chance to beat them in the away match last week, but failed to do so because the weather was too hot for us. I am sure with home ground advantage, we stand a very good chance [tonight] if the match goes ahead."
Sun Hei could manage only a 3-3 draw in the away match and captain Roberto Affonso Jnr admitted they needed the three points to maintain their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Sun Hei have collected only one point in three matches so far and are third in their group. Persibo also have one point but are bottom because of an inferior goal difference.