Fernando Torres to Hong Kong: Spain striker’s J.League side Sagan Tosu set to feature in Lunar New Year Cup
- The Hong Kong Football Association had earlier said the event would remain the same as last year with two local sides playing against each other
- Premier League club Pegasus are organising the tournament by forming a League XI for the event and inviting overseas teams
Spanish striker Fernando Torres is set to make his appearance in Hong Kong as his J.League side Sagan Tosu are believed to be one of three overseas teams targeted for the forthcoming Lunar New Year Cup tournament.
Although the Hong Kong Football Association announced earlier this month there will not be any visiting teams for the annual event as in past years, a Hong Kong Premier League club, believed to be Pegasus, are working hard to make the tournament happen with a tournament featuring overseas teams.
“They are trying to form a League XI with Pegasus players as the backbone to play against three overseas teams,” said a source. “The Lunar New Year Cup has been a major showpiece in the region but since the pull-out of a commercial sponsor over a decade ago, it has been struggling to get quality teams as well as fans to come.
“It would be a shot in the arm if Torres can make it with the J.League club as the Spanish player should have a big following in Hong Kong.”
Earlier Shandong Luneng, who finished third in the China Super League this season, said they would come to Hong Kong for the annual tournament as part of their preseason preparations.
The Chinese side also revealed on its homepage that Auckland City, current leaders in the New Zealand Premier League, will be the third overseas team. The New Zealanders came for the tournament in 2017. Tosu will have a training camp in Okinawa before attending the Hong Kong event in early February.
Now 34, Torres was once a big name in Europe when he played with top clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea. The former Spain international joined the J.League club based in Saga Prefecture, Kyushu, this summer and scored three goals before the season ended this month. Tosu narrowly avoided the drop after they finished 14th out of 18 teams. The bottom two are relegated to the J2.League while the team third from the bottom play a relegation play-off.
This year, the tournament was played between the Hong Kong representative team and a Hong Kong Premier League XI in a one-off match at Mong Kok Stadium.
Now with four teams in contention, the tournament will move back to the Hong Kong Stadium over two days, with the first round on the first day of Chinese New Year (February 5) before the two match winners compete for the cup trophy three days later.
“The Lunar New Year Cup has a long tradition in Hong Kong and everyone in the football community wants to see it regain its glory,” said the source.