• Tottenham Hotspur's third-place game also in doubt
• Premier League takes control of Hong Kong pitch
The Premier League faces the embarrassment of the Asia Trophy, its flagship summer tournament, being called off because of the heavy rain that continues to fall in Hong Kong.
Paolo Di Canio, whose Sunderland team are due to contest the 13.30 BST final on Saturday with Manchester City, called the sodden surface a "killer pitch" and a decision will be made from 09.00 BST onwards regarding whether the game and the earlier third-place play-off between Tottenham Hotspur and South China can go ahead.
Friday's near constant rain forced the Premier League to take control of the pitch from local groundsmen. The surface was covered with a plastic sheet to try to limit the damage but, with the bad weather forecast to continue on Saturday, it is possible that both games may be cancelled over safety concerns. There is no chance of rescheduling as the three English clubs are due to return to the UK almost immediately afterwards.
City's manager, Manuel Pellegrini, and Tottenham's André Villas-Boas joined Di Canio in expressing concern, with the latter admitting he would rather his team's match was cancelled. Villas-Boas had seen Jan Vertonghen sprain ankle ligaments during Wednesday's semi-final, which was contested in sodden conditions.
The Belgium defender's injury threatens to rule him out of the start of the season, a particularly unfortunate consequence given that Spurs' attention to pitch condition is such that the club always travel abroad with their head groundsman, Darren Baldwin, who is in Hong Kong and leading the effort to make the surface playable.
"The conditions are extremely poor," said Villas-Boas. "We have lost one player through injury; not just because of the conditions but it is a factor and I would ideally like to avoid circumstances like this. The pitch is not in good condition and the pitch will be even more difficult for the final.
"I'd prefer not to go ahead but we are professional and have come out for this tournament. Conditions haven't helped us but it is our responsibility to go ahead."
Di Canio, whose side beat Spurs 3-1 to reach the final, said: "You can't believe this kind of weather. We have to handle the situation. For example, we changed our [training] schedule a bit and they ran without the ball. We couldn't play on the field. I hope that we can do something and play the games.
"Of course I'm worried about the safety of my players. It's a killer pitch in this weather. It is dangerous."
The semi-finals were nearly called off – each match was reduced to 40 minutes per half and Saturday's games may even be shorter, if required – and Pellegrini was asked if City's final with Sunderland may not go ahead. "I don't know what will happen, it doesn't depend on me," he said. "It's up to the tournament organisers. We must be optimists and hope we can play."
A Premier League spokesperson said: "There will be regular pitch inspections from 4pm [local time] on Saturday. This is the third time the competition has been held in Hong Kong and there have been no problems previously. In fact, before the rain the pitch was better than it was when they were last here two years ago. Match officials will make the decision whether to play and consult with the clubs – on Wednesday they knew the rain would clear in 30 minutes. The Hong Kong Stadium pitch is a sand-based pitch so it will dry quickly."
Manchester United, who play Kitchee FC in a pre-season tour game at the same venue on Monday, are also worried about the state of the pitch. Their manager, David Moyes, said: "I do have concerns about the surface. It is mainly due to the weather. That is an act of God. We can't do anything about that but we will travel to Hong Kong and hope the conditions improve and the pitch is in a better state than it has been in recently."
With City so far having invested £88m in Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Jesús Navas, Pellegrini hinted that they could break £100m this summer on transfers. The club are interested in adding a defender – Real Madrid's Pepe is a potential target – and the manager said: "The club has spent money on important players, like Stevan and Negredo, but we must remind you that last year here there was [Mario] Balotelli and [Carlos] Tevez, so we had to replace two very good players with another two very good players. So we have the whole month of July and some days of August to finish completely the squad. It's not absolutely complete but it's very near to being complete."
Asked about Pepe specifically, Pellegrini said: "I don't speak about rumours. I'm not talking about specific names because it's not better for us, so I don't talk about Pepe or any other names."