http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/menuitem.2af62ecb329d3d7733492d9253a0a0a0/?vgnextoid=7c0cf270482e7210VgnVCM100000360a0a0aRCRD&ss=HK+%26+China&s=SportCaroliners ask AFC to move their Bangkok tieSouth China have asked to have their crucial AFC Cup tie against Bangkok side Muang Thong United moved to a neutral venue because of the political disturbances in Thailand.The Hong Kong champions are due to take on the Thai side, current leaders of group G, at Thunderdome Stadium in Bangkok in less than two weeks. They need a quick decision by governing body the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as they need to confirm their air ticket bookings to Bangkok on Monday and the matter of insurance also needs to be addressed.The Hong Kong government has issued a red alert to travellers to Bangkok. It warned that if the large-scale anti-government protests persisted in the Thai capital, Hong Kong residents intending to visit there should adjust their plans or avoid non-essential travel."Although we will play them on April 20, all our air tickets must be issued on Monday at the latest," said Steven Lo Kit-sing, team convenor of South China. "Once we have cleared the tickets, there will be no refund even if the match moves to another place."In addition, we have difficulty in securing insurance for our trip to Bangkok because of the current situation there. We will not risk the players and officials going to Bangkok without proper insurance."The Caroliners are second in the table after they beat Persiwa of Indonesia 2-0 on Wednesday, but a defeat in Bangkok may cost them a place in the round of 16 with two matches left as they only lead third-placed VB of Maldives by one point.The away match against Muang Thong will definitely be a tough one considering their result in Hong Kong. Muang Thong were able to hold South China to a goalless draw with only nine men when the two sides met at Hong Kong Stadium in February.Lo said the request had nothing to do with the difficulty the Caroliners faced on the field. "Security always comes first and we don't mind travelling to another Thai city like Pattaya or Phuket to play the match if these places are safe. But of course we hope the match can be held in another South East Asian nation such as Malaysia or Singapore, where we won't find any threat of this kind," he said.Hong Kong Football Association competition director Emily Lau Cheuk-chi said yesterday it had received the request from South China."We spoke to the AFC briefly on the telephone on Thursday and sent them an official letter today stating our request," she said. "We understand the situation in Bangkok is quite serious and it will be dangerous to play football there at this stage. In the end, it's up to the AFC to make a decision on whether they will change the venue or reschedule the match."Lo made it clear they did not want to postpone the match. "No one knows when the uprising in Bangkok will come to an end. Also, the AFC Cup schedule is very hectic this year with the round of 16 due in May. We don't see any room for delaying the tie. It will be better to play at a neutral venue," he said.The AFC Cup round of 16 will be held on either May 11 or 12, just two weeks after the final group matches and Lo said it would be difficult to find a day to fit in the postponed match.But when a similar situation took place in the fixture between Muang Thong and Persiwa last month, the AFC only postponed the tie for 10 days and Muang Thong eventually won 4-1 in Bangkok.The AFC has already contacted the Football Association of Thailand to discuss the situation in Bangkok.
South China FC is happy to play Muang Thong Utd in Phuket. It is against the law of HK for anyone to send its staff to work in a place without valid travel insurance. Even the players' families have expressed concern about playing in Bangkok.