Hong Kong striker Chan Siu-ki has admitted that he is concerned about the political situation in Maldives ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Male on Thursday.
Maldives has declared a state of emergency following weeks of political unrest and Hong Kong subsequently responded by raising the amber outbound travel alert on November 4.
While worried about the situation, Chan conceded that he has to focus his attention on the match as a victory would further cement his side’s position in second place on the Group C standings and improve their chances of progressing to the next round.
“[I read] there were some bombs found, but you have no choice because you are representing Hong Kong,” he told Hong Kong-based newspaper The Standard. “If we fail to attend the match, we will automatically lose.”
The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) wanted the match to be moved to the Mong Kok Stadium in Hong Kong, but their request was denied by FIFA. The HKFA then pushed for the kick off to be brought forward from 21:00 to 18:00 as they didn’t want the national team spending an extra night in the country. This requested was rejected by Maldives as they said there would be evening prayers earlier in the night.
FIFA then ruled that the match would take place at 15:30, a decision that Hong Kong did not agree with as it would be too hot. However, Hong Kong's attempts to move the match back to 21:00 were unsuccessful.
"They [FIFA officials] said you cannot change the time again," HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said.
In their last meeting on June 16, Hong Kong triumphed over Maldives 2-0 at Mong Kok Stadium.