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SBD Global/November 4, 2013/International Football

South China Could Play In AFC Champions League Via Play-Off Spot

Hong Kong First Division champion South China could find itself fighting for a place in next season's Asian Football Confederation Champions League after the AFC "opened the door for Hong Kong to take part in the region's top club competition despite the city still lacking a fully professional league set-up," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. South China, the defending league champion, has raised its hands "for a solitary play-off spot being made available to the city for the 2014 AFC Champions League." The playoffs "will take place in February and March next year." Hong Kong FA CEO Mark Sutcliffe said, "The AFC wants more countries represented in the Champions League and has informed us that one playoff spot could be available for Hong Kong next year. We have been a bit cheeky and asked for two, putting forward the names of South China and Kitchee." With an eye on raising the number of countries -- at present only 14 are represented -- in the premier club competition, the Asian governing body has relaxed the eligibility rules and opened it up under an "extraordinary application" process. AFC officials "were in Hong Kong in August to inspect facilities and meet local clubs interested in competing in the play-offs" (SCMP, 11/3).

PITCH COMPLAINT: In Hong Kong, Chan Kin-wa wrote Kitchee General Manager Ken Ng Kin "slammed the government's policy of venue usage after watching his side scrape a 1-0 win over Royal Southern in the RedMR First Division" on Saturday. Frequent public use "had damaged the pitch and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's remedial action was to spread sand on affected areas before the match" (SCMP, 11/3).
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