Tasnim – Head of Hong Kong Football Association Pui Kwan-kay said it was “highly unlikely” that Hong Kong’s World Cup Asian zone qualifier against Iran next month will go ahead because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Hong Kong is expected to visit Tehran’s 78,000-seat Azadi Stadium for the away World Cup match on March 26 before returning for its home tie against Iraq in the group C qualifiers five days later.
Hong Kong Football Association chairman Pui is deeply concerned with the city’s strict quarantine measures that have been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus after a surge of positive Covid-19 cases were recorded in the Middle East nation in recent weeks.
“I doubt very much if we will still send a team to Iran after these new precautionary measures (were put in place),” said Pui. “If our players are required to be placed in quarantine centers after returning from Tehran, I don’t think clubs would be willing to release their players for the qualifying match. Most of all, how can we play the home match against Iraq just five days later if all the players are still in quarantine?”
“We would seek advice from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation as soon as possible because the two World Cup matches are fast approaching and the situation is quite urgent,” he added.
Iraq leads the group on 11 points, followed by Bahrain (9), Iran (6) and Hong Kong (5) with Cambodia bottom on one point.
Iran and Italy are the latest two countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus which first originated in Wuhan in China. Japan and South have also been hard hit, with Hong Kong also recording 94 cases.