Festus Baise faces race against time to join Hong Kong team
- The Nigerian-born utility player needs to play two more matches for Guizhou Hengfeng
- Hong Kong coach Gary White hopes he can join the rest of the squad this week
Utility player Festus Baise is racing against time to join his Hong Kong teammates this week and join the “fight” after failing to help his mainland club stave off relegation in the Chinese Super League.
Hong Kong coach Gary White wants Baise to return to the city as soon as possible as his charges get ready to take part in the EAFF Championship second round, which kicks off in Taipei this weekend.
Nigerian-born Baise was named in White’s 20-member squad on Sunday night and the 44-year-old wants the Guizhou Hengfeng player back to his squad quickly, thinking it’s a lost cause for him to stay with the already-relegated club.
Guizhou have two matches left in the season. They visit Henan Jianye on Wednesday before playing host to Chongqing Siwei on the final day of the season on Sunday. However, the club are entrenched at the bottom of the table with no hope of catching other clubs.
The 38-year-old Baise will already miss Monday’s training session at Tseung Kwan O and White wants him to return in midweek.
“I hope he will be joining us after his game in the midweek and we are still trying to get him as quickly as possible,” said White, who will be in charge of his first official international since taking up the Hong Kong post in September. “Baise is an important and experienced member of the squad. His record speaks for itself.
“We’ll see what happens after tonight. Every day we will be chasing his club and the relevant people to try to push it as there is nothing to fight [for Guizhou] but a lot to fight for us.”
The only Hong Kong player currently plying his trade in the Chinese Super League, Baise can play as central defender or midfielder and even up front. He scored the equaliser when Hong Kong forced a 1-all draw against home side Indonesia in an international friendly last month.
White also defended his decision to not include Eastern’s Lam Ka-wai, who has been playing well at club level. Dai Tsun-wai, of English League One club Oxford United, was also omitted.
“There are many players that are not on the list and I don’t want to run through why individual players are not on the list,” he said. “At this point this is the strongest group that we feel confident of going into the next set of games. Lam has been playing well for sure and many other players also. They are still on the big radar.”
White has kept the faith on naturalised players, choosing Jaimes McKee, Sandro, Giovane da Silva, Paul Ngue and Alex Akande as his frontline players.
Only one team will qualify from the tournament in Taipei to join South Korea, China and Japan for the EAFF Championship final next year. Hong Kong will play Taiwan on Sunday before taking on North Korea two days later. They will then play Mongolia on November 16.
Yapp Hung-fai, Wang Zhenpeng, Tsang Kam-to, Festus Baise, Daniel Cancela, Tong Kin-man, Lau Hok-ming, Andrew Russell, Leung Nok-hang, Leung Chun-pong, Xu Deshuai, Huang Yang, Tan Chun-lok, Lee Ka-yiu, Wong Wai, Jaimes McKee, Sandro, Giovane da Silva, Paul Ngue, Alex Akande.