Eagle Star face finals qualification crisis

NEWLY crowned team champions Eagle Star may have to pull out of the league championship play-off round because they do not have the minimum four players to form a full team.

Eagle Star, who captured the U2 Premier League title on Wednesday, are crippled by the departure of number two Alan Hicks and injury to Ian Hardy.

They called in William Chu to make up the numbers in their last two league matches of the regular season but the Singaporean is not eligible for the play-offs.

''The rules stipulate that players need to have played at least five matches to qualify for the play-offs and William had only played two matches for us,'' said number one Peter Hill, who also coaches the team. ''Alan has left Hong Kong in February and it's very unfortunate that we've also lost Ian, who tore cartileges in his knee during cricket and will be out for quite some time.'' Eagle Star have only three players who are eligible for the play-offs - Hill, Joseph Kwok Man-wai and Richard Bolton, who also came into the team late in the season and had played exactly five matches.

Hill said they hope the Hong Kong Squash Racquets Association will make an exception for them to field Chu in the play-off matches or they may be forced to withdraw from the competition.

The club had sent a letter to the HKSRA explaining their predicament and asking for a relaxation of the rule.

League committee vice-chairman Tony Choi Yuk-kwan said: ''We will look into the matter but Alan Hicks left in late January and missed seven weeks of play.

''They [Eagle Star] should have made sure at least five or six players had played a minimum of five matches so they can still have a full team in the case of any injuries of illnesses.'' Eagle Star are scheduled to meet Express News at the Hong Kong Squash Centre on Wednesday, with the winners going through to the play-off finals.