Hong Kong’s domestic football season will not restart even if the government reopens venues next month, but the city’s football chief remains positive Hong Kong can still prepare for the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in June. With football venues closed since early January, the Hong Kong Football Association took the unprecedented step of abandoning the season altogether, as Covid-19 restrictions wiped out its schedule. On Monday, however, chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said sport venues might reopen in April, should case numbers begin to ease. “Time is running too short even if the facilities can reopen next month,” HKFA chairman Pui Kwan-kay, said. “Many of the players’ contracts are due to finish in May, which means the clubs will have to release them by early June. “We can have about two months to finish the season after the reopening of the sports facilities, but bear in mind we can’t restart the season right away. Players will need at least two to three weeks of training for them to get back to match fitness after stopping for such a long period of time, just like an off season.” Hong Kong Premier League clubs abandon season for the first time Pui added that several clubs have regional commitments that make it hard to reschedule any remaining fixtures of the season. Champions Kitchee are currently in Bangkok to prepare for the Asian Champions League next month, while Lee Man started their overseas training camp in the same country this week as they seek a group spot in the AFC Cup. The football chief is, however, keen to see facilities reopen as soon as possible, as Hong Kong prepares for its 2023 Asian Cup qualification campaign. “We have plans to bring the Hong Kong team to overseas training if there are still no facilities available in the city, but the trip will incur a considerable amount of budget,” Pui said. “But if football grounds reopen in April, we can still spend time at home to prepare for the tournament which starts in June. After all, our new manager has yet to start a training session with the players since his appointment.” New Hong Kong football coach Andersen wants ‘offensive, attractive’ style Former North Korea coach Jorn Andersen was appointed manager in December, succeeding Finnish coach Mixu Paatelainen, who left the team after Hong Kong’s failure at the 2022 World Cup Asian qualification games last year. Pui said the team could train at the Tseung Kwan O Training Centre when it reopens. The Centre has been shut since early January. Hong Kong will take on hosts India, Cambodia and Afghanistan in the qualifiers in June and look likely to advance to the 2023 Asian Cup finals in China if the team can have a quality build-up to the qualification.