HONG KONG Hong Kong officials will implement additional security measures for Eastern's Asian Champions League meeting with Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday evening amid concerns Chinese fans have purchased tickets for areas restricted for home supporters.
The Hong Kong champions take on the Chinese Super League winners, who are coached by FIFA World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari, at Mongkok Stadium. Local supporters are being asked to produce identity cards before being admitted. Organisers are concerned that supporters from China have purchased tickets outside the area designated for Guangzhou's travelling support. They issued a statement on Monday evening advising home fans that a valid Hong Kong identity card was required along with their tickets to gain access to seating.
All 5,800 tickets for the game have been sold, with Guangzhou allocated just 350 in accordance with tournament regulations. Hong Kong officials have been sensitive to any prospect of trouble at sporting events featuring Chinese teams since street protests brought parts of the city to a halt in late 2014.
Similar restrictions were put in place when China's national team played against Hong Kong at the same stadium ina World Cup qualifier in November 2015. The move comes two months after the teams met in Guangzhou and Eastern were forced to issue refunds to fans who had purchased tickets for the game in China. The club said a miscommunication had led to the tickets being made available. Guangzhou won that game 7-0 after Eastern had two players sent off inside the opening 25 minutes, but Scolari cautioned against expecting a repeat performance by his team on Tuesday. "The game in Guangzhou was not a game," said the Brazilian World Cup winner, whose team will qualify for the next phase of the competition if they win.
"They lost a player after five minutes and they lost a second player in 25 minutes. Forget the first game," he said.
(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Gareth Jones)