HK forced to qualify for Asian Games tournament

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2005, 12:00am

Hong Kong will have to take the long and winding road to Doha after the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) left the SAR out of the list of seven nominated teams for the Asian Games next year.

Hosts Qatar, South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Thailand have earned direct entry for the eight-team sevens competition at the Asian Games, leaving only one spot open.

Hong Kong will vie for this last vacancy alongside Kazakhstan, Singapore and Malaysia. The venue and dates for the qualifying tournament has yet to be decided.

'The competition will be tough and challenging, but going on recent results, we are confident we can qualify for the Asian Games,' said Hong Kong head coach Ivan Torpey yesterday. The Asian Games squad lost narrowly to Kazakhstan, by two points, and beat Malaysia in September's Kandy Sevens in Sri Lanka, which was originally to be the qualifier for the Doha Games. But the ARFU changed that at the last minute, and instead have picked most of the teams on past results and rankings.

The ARFU has also asked any of the four remaining contenders if they wished to host the qualifying tournament. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union has indicated that they are willing, but a decision has not been made yet. Singapore are also thought to be keen.

The local Asian Games squad - only players who are locally born or of Chinese parentage are eligible - is already in training. Last weekend they took part in the Singapore Cricket Club Sevens.