Hong Kong still wait on Festus Baise with Guizhou insisting he stays for their final two Chinese Super League matches
- The Chinese club are already relegated and want the Hong Kong player to stay
- Hong Kong face Taiwan on Sunday, same day as Baise’s last game for Guizhou
Hong Kong are still hoping Festus Baise can be released from his Chinese Super League club in time for the EAFF Championship second round in Taiwan.
The Guizhou Hengfeng defender was the only player missing from the squad when they held their second training session at Tseung Kwan O Football Training Centre on Tuesday.
Although Guizhou have already been relegated with two rounds of the campaign left, Baise was to remain in China for their visit to Henan Jianye on Wednesday. Their final game is against Chongqing Siwei on Sunday.
“My club wants me to finish these coming two games before travelling back to Hong Kong,” said Baise, who has made 24 appearances for Hong Kong since he was first selected to the team in 2015. “I am still discussing with my team to release me early but anyway I will finish the game on Wednesday and see what happens.”
The tournament, which kicks off in Taipei on Sunday when Hong Kong take on the hosts, does not fall in the Fifa window, which begins only on Monday and makes it mandatory for clubs to release players for international duty.
Coach Gary White said they were still chasing the player and would have a better picture after Baise’s game on Wednesday.
“For sure he will join the squad and we just wait whether it will be before the first game or on the day of the first game. Of course, we hope we can get him directly after the game on Wednesday,” said the coach.
“His absence will affect us because he is a good player, but we also have other good players and we have already plan B and plan C in place. Sometimes you miss one player and it’s the opportunity for another player.”
After playing Taiwan on Sunday, Hong Kong take on North Korea two days later before finishing the tournament against Mongolia on Friday. Only the top team will qualify for the EAFF Championship finals next year against South Korea, Japan and China.
Leung Nok-hang, of R&F, is a likely option if Baise cannot play the first game against Taiwan. The 23-year-old, who completed his high school studies in Britain at the Brooke House College Football Academy, said he was ready.
“We know Baise may not be able to come back in time and if the chance comes, I am well prepared,” said the defender. “If you have been selected, you always want to play. I don’t think I will have any problem as I know other defenders well such as Andrew Russell as we played together in South China before.”