Tropical storm Barijat and Super Typhoon Mangkhut threaten Chinese Super League and AFC Champions League fixtures
Hong Kong Premier League grounds could take direct hit while Tianjin Quanjian v Kashima Antlers in Macau
A combination of tropical storm Barijat and Super Typhoon Mangkhut are threatening to disrupt football in southern China this weekend.
The Chinese Super League game between league leaders Beijing Guoan and seven-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande at Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium on Friday night threatens to be postponed if Barijat makes landfall in Guangdong Province as expected.
Xinhua reported late on Wednesday that 12,000 people in the province had already been evacuated from their homes in anticipation while Barijat had also disrupted travel between Hainan and Guangdong.
Supporters remain optimistic that the game will go ahead as planned.
A spokesperson for the Hong Kong Guoan Fan Club, who will take 25 away fans to the game, said that, “Luckily Friday is in between two typhoons. The Guangzhou away stand organisers have already fixed the assembly arrangements. So I think it’s 99.9 per cent secured.”
However, he could not rule out that plan changing.
“If there is a last-minute postponement, we will surely be hugely disappointed. As all of use have already taken leave, booked hotels and transportation and put off some appointments.”
Worse still, it might derail their team’s title bid as they look to win the league for the first time since 2009.
The top of the table clash is being seen as key in deciding whether the CSL title stays in Guangzhou, returns to Beijing or finds a new home in Shanghai.
Shanghai SIPG are the other team currently in the running and the champions travel to Shanghai on Tuesday to play their rearranged fixture – the original game in August was postponed because of a typhoon threatening to land in Shanghai.
The fixture pile-up has not been kind to the champions, who face the two teams above them in the table in four days.
A postponement would suit the hosts as they look to leapfrog those sides by making up the three-point deficit from the capital club.
“In the end it would definitely benefit Guangzhou the most,” explains Tobias Zuser of Hong Kong football magazine Offside, who plans on being in the away end.
“Guoan would need to travel for a fourth time to Guangzhou, while Evergrande would be better rested when taking on SIPG.
“Then there is the psychological advantage of having several games in hand. So hopefully it doesn’t come to this.
Postponement would allow Shanghai SIPG to return to the top of the table going into Tuesday’s meeting with Evergrande.
Meanwhile, over the border, the Hong Kong Premier League is in a similar situation to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s planned race meet at Sha Tin.
If a T3 (or below) warning is issued in the same time frame then the decision as to whether the game can be played will be made as part of the usual pre-match inspections.
Sunday afternoon should see champions Kitchee play their first home game of the season against much fancied R&F at Mong Kok Stadium, the same day that Mangkhut is expected to hit Hong Kong.
Fans are already predicting that the game will be postponed as per the latest warning from the Hong Kong Observatory.
Tropical storm Barijat is on its way to Mainland's coast, expected to hit Guangdong area on the 13th...will Evergrande's home match vs Guoan on the 14th be canceled? pic.twitter.com/DcapWk9nHC
— Roy Tadmor (@RoyTLuo) September 12, 2018
The first weekend of the season saw Southern and Hoi King postponed because the Aberdeen Sports Ground pitch was waterlogged.
The rearranged fixture was played last Saturday during the international break.
Eleswhere, AFC Champions League game between CSL side Tianjin Quanjian and Japanese J.League side Kashima Antlers in Macau on Tuesday night could also be affected.
With Super Typhoon Mangkhut expected to reach Macau on Sunday, travel for both visiting teams could be hit.
Tianjin Quanjian play Friday evening but travel south could prove problematic with Mangkhut in their potential flight path.
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) 5 September 2018
Kashima, who lead the tie 2-0 from the first leg, also play Friday evening and face the same difficulties in getting to the game.
The fixture was moved from Tianjin to a “neutral ground” after the home side failed to find a suitable stadium to play the game.
Their home ground is out of action because of security concerns surrounding the annual World Economic Forum meeting in the city and the potential flashpoint of the anniversary of the 1931 Mukden Incident, a prelude to the Japanese invasion of what was then Manchuria.
Tianjin Quanjian missed their original flight to the first leg in Kashima because of traffic between the city and Beijing.