South China star Mateja Kezman fired a stinging broadside at the format of the AFC Cup competition after his side were eliminated in the group stage, saying extreme tropical conditions and remote venues gave some of the home sides an unfair advantage. The Hong Kong champions returned yesterday from Papua, Indonesia, where they lost 4-2 to home team Persipura, a week after they were held to a 3-3 away draw in India by unheralded East Bengal. The two results helped ensure they do not progress in the regional cup tournament, though they have one game still to play in group H. The Caroliners were semi-finalists two years ago and finished top of the group last year before losing in the last 16. 'This is an unfair competition as the home side can have a great advantage,' said the former Serbia international, who has played for top European clubs such as Eindhoven, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. 'In fact, it is the worst tournament I have played in. We had to take four different flights altogether to play one game with 18 hours of travelling, starting the match at 4pm in 30 degrees Celsius heat and with 100 per cent humidity. I swear I was fighting to survive under these conditions and it was very difficult. A strange competition and kind of stupid.' He noted that Persipura lost 4-1 to Chonburi when they went to Thailand, but thrashed the same opponents 3-0 at home, saying the Thai team simply could not deal with the difficult away match conditions. Kezman admitted it was very disappointing to exit the regional tournament in such a way. 'I was dreaming about the last group match against Chonburi at a full stadium next week,' he said. 'At least we would have played one big game if we won the match in Papua. But I have done my best under these conditions. It's a pity.' Kezman, who joined South China with former Manchester United star Nicky Butt in January, said his contract with the local powerhouses would expire this month, but he had no clear plans for his immediate future at this stage. 'I haven't spoken to the boss yet, but I want to say I have been very happy in Hong Kong over these months,' he said. 'Although the football here is a bit lower standard than what I expected and the competition is not so strong, the city is amazing, the club is nice, the boss is so patient and the people are so kind to help me. I have done my best despite such a short time to settle in and have no regrets about coming to Hong Kong. 'There are a few games to finish and I want to finish them well. There is still plenty of time. We'll see.' South China are in the FA Cup semi-finals where they will play against Sun Hei next week. They also will meet Tai Chung in their last league match on May 21, but it will not affect the final standings if Kitchee beat Football Club tomorrow to clinch the championship. Even if South China clinch the FA Cup, the second trophy of their season after lifting the League Cup, coach Chan Ho-yin will still not be a happy man. 'Our target was very clear for this season,' Chan said. The AFC Cup was our top priority, followed by the league championship.' The coach blamed the suspension of key players as well as the draw in the opening home match against Persipura for their failure in the AFC Cup. Both their central defenders, Lee Chi-ho and Joel Padilha, were suspended for the match against Persipura after accumulating two yellow cards, while Kezman also missed the 3-3 draw against East Bengal for the same reason.