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Wong Wai (left) celebrates after scoring for Hong Kong in a 2023 Asian Cup qualifier at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata, India, on June 8, 2022. Photo: HKFA

Football officials delighted as government gives green light for Hong Kong international friendly against Myanmar

  • Government approves Football Association’s proposed safety measures, which entail quarantine exemption and ‘closed loop’ for visitors
  • Ticket sales will start as soon as possible for the game at Hong Kong Stadium – the team’s first home international match since 2019

Hong Kong football officials said they were delighted to have been given last-minute approval to play an international friendly against Myanmar next week.

Pui Kwan-kay, the Hong Kong Football Association’s chairman, said on Friday the match would go ahead as planned at the 40,000-seater Hong Kong Stadium on September 24, along with a training game three days before which will be played behind closed doors.

Despite the late notice, Pui said the governing body was ready for the game and had been preparing with the expectation it would be granted permission.

“The government has approved our anti-epidemic measures and therefore we can run the two matches as scheduled,” he said. “Time is running a bit short as there are only a couple of days left but the preparation work began long ago and went well.”

Coach Jorn Andersen will be leading his side playing at home for the first time since his appointment in December. Photo: HKFA

The Myanmar team will come to Hong Kong under a “closed loop” environment, which means they will not need to go through the hotel quarantine as required for all inbound travellers.

There will be designated transport for them from the hotel to the training and playing venues with no contact with the community.

Myanmar football team due in Hong Kong next week, government yet to approve it

Commissioner of Sports Yeung Tak-keung defended the lateness of the decision, saying a lot of details had needed to be worked out.

“The organisers and the visitors have to agree on a safety plan including board and lodging, transport, training and competition venues before submitting it to the government for approval,” Yeung said. “And adjustments of the plan have been made during the period in accordance with the pandemic situation.

“The Hong Kong team only came up with the idea of playing friendly games in the upcoming Fifa window after they finished the East Asian Championship in late July. And it takes time to sort out all these details with all parties involved before the government can approve it.”

Jorn Andersen has introduced a new playing style for the Hong Kong team. Photo: Chan Kin-wa

Yeung, who has been a long-time football supporter, said he had every reason to believe fans would attend the match at short notice.

“Fans will be eager to come and watch the Hong Kong team,” Yeung said. “Not only because there has not been a home game for a long period of time, but also because changes to the team have been made under the new coach, with a new playing style.

“Also, there have been new players coming through the ranks during this period, who the fans have not watched before in the Hong Kong team. That’s why they will want to come and support.”

Hong Kong last played at home in a 2022 World Cup Asian zone qualifier when they defeated visitors Cambodia 2-0 at the So Kon Po venue in November 2019.

They were forced to play their remaining qualifiers 18 months later in a tournament format in Bahrain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sports Commissioner Yeung Tak-keung (left) and Hong Kong Football Association chairman Pui Kwan-kay. Photo: Chan Kin-wa

Since their last game at home, Hong Kong – under new coach Jorn Anderson – have qualified for the Asian Cup for the first time in 54 years, and have played against Japan, South Korea and China in the East Asian Championship.

Ticket sales for the friendly will begin next week, with capacity at the stadium limited to 85 per cent because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Andersen is expected to announce his squad on Sunday before starting a training camp the following day.