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Former Eddie Matt Lam waiting on his Hong Kong paperwork

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There’s a good chance that Matt Lam will join the ranks of Canadian prospects who have answered the call of other nations.

The former Ajax youth player, former national U-20 midfielder and ex-FC Edmonton midfielder is waiting on his paperwork that would make him eligible to join the Hong Kong national team.

Lam joined Hong Kong side Kitchee SC last winter, after being released by the Eddies. He’s become a regular starter at the club, scoring a goal this season. He also scored in AFC Cup qualifying in the previous campaign. He also put in a very decent shift in an off-season friendly against Manchester United (CLICK HERE).

And he’s looking good for a league championship this season, as Kitchee is still undefeated in the league, and has a seven-point cushion atop the standings. But Lam has been frustrated by the process of getting his paperwork to make him a domestic in the Hong Kong FA.

“My permanent residency got rejected,” Lam says.”But my dad (who came from Hong Kong to Edmonton) has reapplied for his HK passport and, once he gets that, the process should be simple for me to get my HK passport.

“It’s a bit frustrating when I found out. The process was going so smoothly until the last hurdle, when I got the letter back that said unfortunately, we cannot grant you the permanent residency at this time. It was in the papers here, it was a big shock. That’s because the Hong Kong national team is really interested in having me join them, as well.” A

nd he’s listening to the overtures from the HK national side.

“I’ve kind of been off Canada’s radar for a while now,” says Lam. “And you play good games over here against strong Asian clubs, and it’s good for you, exposure-wise. You just never know.”

The rejection of the residency application also tripped up Kitchee SC’s management. The club had planned for Lam to be a domestic player by the time the AFC Cup (think of it Asia’s equivalent to the Europa League) begins in a few weeks. AFC Cup rules limit teams to three foreigners. Kitchee has three more foreigners on its roster so, Lam became the odd man out, even though he scored for the club in AFC Cup qualifying. It didn’t have to do with Lam’s effectiveness as much as it had to do with the fact Kitchee had built its roster with the assumption that Lam would be a Hong Kong national by the time the team lists would have to be submitted to the Asian Football Confederation. But the delays put those plans in the dumper.

Lam says that once the application is re-submitted, it should take about three more months to process. And that re-submission will come after his dad’s citizenship application is granted.

A MORE IN-DEPTH and UPDATED version of the Lam story will appear in the SPRING 2014 issue of PLASTIC PITCH.

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