Hong Kong are looking for a victory against Turkmenistan to boost their hopes in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers when the two sides meet in an Asian zone second-round match at Hong Kong Stadium today.
With no major injury problems and home-ground advantage, coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheung is upbeat about their chances.
'We have undergone some extensive training over the last couple of days and the players are gradually hitting top form,' said Lai. 'It would have been better if we had a few more days for the players to train together as a squad, but we have done the best we can.
'We need to go into the away leg with an advantage, or we'll have little chance of making the group stage.'
The SAR squad defeated minnows East Timor 11-3 on aggregate in the opening round, but Lai admitted the real challenge will be against the central Asia state, who eliminated Cambodia 5-1 in their previous round.
'They impressed me a lot during their training here and their attack is of a very high quality,' said the coach.
Happy Valley goalkeeper Fan Chun-yip will play between the posts despite having lost his regular position at club level, while Chan Wai-ho of South China will replace clubmate Man Pei-tak at centre-half. In midfield, Bulova Rangers' Lam Ka-wai will take over the skipper's role left by outgoing Cheung Sai-ho.
Turkmenistan, meanwhile, are bringing an even better side to Hong Kong than the one that easily defeated Cambodia.
'We are sending a stronger team to play in Hong Kong because we know it is going to be a tougher match than against the Cambodians,' team manager Saparniyaz Begnepesov said.
Striker Vladimir Bayramov of Russian Premier League side FC Rubin Kazan and Guvanchmuhamed Ovekov, who plays for FC Kharkiv of Ukraine, will form a dangerous partnership up front.
Another Rubin Kazan player - goalkeeper Pavel Kharchik - is also likely to feature in today's match. All three players were not included in the team that defeated Cambodia in the previous round.
'We know Hong Kong have drawn with Uzbekistan twice and therefore they should be a good team,' said Begnepesov.
'We are preparing for a good match with some good football, and hopefully we can return to Turkmenistan with a victory.'