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Paraguay to bring Premiership stars -published by SCMP on 22 Oct, 2010

Four Paraguay internationals playing in the English Premier League will spearhead a strong South American side against the Hong Kong team in an international friendly next month.

Fans will be treated to a display of the skills of Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City), Cristian Riveros and Paulo da Silva (both Sunderland) and Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan) in the AET Cup on November 17.

"The four Premier League stars are in our 25-member preliminary list and will start the match at Hong Kong Stadium unless injuries or some other unforeseeable circumstances prevent them doing so," said Wallace Cheung, chairman of sponsors AET.

"Paraguay reached the last eight in the World Cup finals this summer, but we have set the ticket prices at a very competitive rate because we want more people to come and watch them play. This is an opportunity the fans should not miss.

"Our aim is not to make a profit from the match. All we want to do is promote Paraguay soccer to Hong Kong fans as the South Americans are among the world's best."

The tickets of AET Cup - 2010 international soccer friendly match Hong Kong against Paraguay " would be pre-booking in the website of cityline from November 8, The highest ticket price is HK$350, followed by HK$180, HK$150, HK$100 and concessionary tickets of HK$50. The other ticket details will be announced later in the Hong Kong Football Association website www.hkfa.com

Cheung, whose company became a sponsor of the Paraguay national team last month, said the cost of the match was HK$7 million and he would be happy to see a crowd of more than 30,000.

Other than the four Premier League players, Paraguay internationals who play in other European leagues are likely to come, such as Lucas Barrios of Borussia Dortmund, Jonathan Santana of Wolfsburg, Justo Villar of Valladolid and Nelson Haedo Valdez of Hercules.

"We set the match on a Fifa international day so the clubs are obliged to release players for international duty and that's why we can guarantee a strong line-up," said Cheung.

Former Hong Kong coach Kwok Ka-ming, a member of Fifa's Technical Study Group (TSG) in South Africa this summer, had high praise for the Paraguay team. "Their performance in the World Cup may have surprised many people, but they do have the quality, strong in both attack and defence with good team work," said Kwok. "They have done a good job in youth development over the past decade and many of their full internationals are products of their own youth scheme."

Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said it would be a good test for the home side. "We do not have too many chances to play against such a quality side. It will definitely be a good learning experience," he said.