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2018 Fifa World Cup Asian qualifying

Deadline day: Venue for Hong Kong v Maldives World Cup qualifier must be decided today

Time is running out for Fifa to determine whether the game will be moved from the Indian Ocean nation to another stadium

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 November, 2015, 1:07am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 November, 2015, 1:07am

A decision is expected to be made today on whether or not Hong Kong will be required to play Maldives in a World Cup qualifier after the nation declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

Chief executive of the Hong Kong Football Association Mark Sutcliffe said all parties involved had been contacted to find the best possible solution to the World Cup qualifying game, scheduled to be played next week in Male.

"We have spent most of the day and the night before in discussion with Fifa, the AFC and the Maldives Football Association regarding the match due to be held in Male next Thursday," said Sutcliffe.

Chairman of the association Brian Leung Hung-tak said Hong Kong would not risk sending a team to Maldives given the current situation.

He suggested moving the match to Hong Kong just as China did against Maldives when the latter held their home match in the mainland city of Shenyang in the same tournament because of the poor pitch conditions in the National Stadium in Male.

There are four options the parties could agree on: play the match at a neutral venue, with Singapore being mooted; postpone the match until the situation in Male improved; move the match to Hong Kong; or stick to the original schedule without making any changes.

We have spent most of the day and the night before in discussion with Fifa, the AFC and the Maldives Football Association regarding the match
Mark Sutcliffe  

Hong Kong would be leaving for Maldives via Singapore on Monday, according to the schedule, and "are running against time to make changes", said Leung.

The Hong Kong team, meanwhile, suffered a major setback prior to their practice session in So Kon Po yesterday after utility midfielder Huang Yang made himself unavailable for Hong Kong's next two matches - an international friendly against Myanmar on Saturday and the Maldives game.

READ: 'No way we should go' - HKFA hopes to move Maldives world cup match to Mong Kok   

"He injured his right ankle during a training match the previous day and we are considering a replacement," said coach Kim Pan-gon. "But we are still keeping our fingers crossed Huang will feature in our crunch match against China."

Tickets for the much-anticipated Hong Kong v China World Cup qualifier on November 17 are being offered online for between six and 20 times face value, 24 hours after angry fans were left frustrated by official website, Cityline.

Lucky fans, who managed to get their hands on tickets through Cityline on Wednesday are trying to cash in with 28 tickets being offered on viagogo.com for far above their face value, selling from HK$680 to HK$3,000.

Tickets for the game cost HK$150.