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South China FC

Juventus are coming to Hong Kong - but opponents South China are worried top stars may miss trip

Club's 12 players at Euro 2016 - including six in Italy squad - could miss July 30 friendly depending on how far their countries go

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2016, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2016, 8:56am

South China will take on Serie A champions Juventus in an exhibition match at Hong Kong Stadium next month, but the club admits they're worried some of the Italian giant's biggest names may miss the trip.

With the Euro 2016 final scheduled for July 10, a number of Juventus’ international stars, headed by France midfielder Paul Pogba and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, will not be available for the Hong Kong match on July 30 should their country make it to the title decider at Stade de France in Saint Denis.

Juve have six players in the Italy squad, and with 12 players at the tournament in total are the club with the joint highest number in France.

“This is a dilemma,” said South China convenor Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung.

“On one hand, a good performance for Italy will certainly boost the attendance of the game in Hong Kong, but the rules state clearly the players get three weeks off after the tournament. If Italy reach the final, their international players will not be able to come.

“We will closely monitor the situation with the match promoters and even if Buffon is not available for the match, we still want to invite him to come to Hong Kong and meet with the fans.”

Only three South American stars appear in the initial team list from the visitors, which includes Brazilian left back Alex Sandro, midfielder Hernanes and striker Paulo Dybala of Argentina.

The 'Old Lady's' Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Stefano Sturaro and Simone Zaza join Buffon in Italy's Euro 2016 squad.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed to see who can come in the end, but of course we want the best possible squad to play a good game for the fans as we know

Juventus have a strong following in Hong Kong,” said Cheung.

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The Turin-based club are Italy’s leading team with a record 32 domestic championships, including the last five titles. They have also been Champions League winners twice and runners-up a record six times.

It will be Juventus’ third visit to Hong Kong after losing to South China 2-1 in 2008, and a penalty shoot-out defeat against Kitchee after a 2-2 draw in 2005.

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Tickets are priced from HK$300 up to HK$680 and will be available online from June 23.

“There has been no international exhibition match at Hong Kong Stadium since we last hosted New York Cosmos in the 2015 Lunar New Year Cup and the fans will be hungry for it especially after watching Euro 2016,” said Cheung.

“The ticket prices are very competitive and we expect a good turnout.”

 

JUVE PLAYERS AT EURO 2016

Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Stefano Sturaro, Simone Zaza 

France: Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra

Croatia: Mario Mandzukic

Spain: Alvaro Morata

Germany: Sami Khedira

Switzerland: Stephan Lichtsteiner