Striker Chan Siu-ki will spearhead a 20-man squad as Hong Kong kick off their campaign in the East Asian Cup qualifiers this weekend.
The "bad boy" of Hong Kong soccer ended a month-long "missing in action" saga when he returned to training with the squad last week, and the China First Division side Sunray Cave striker will lead the line for newly appointed head coach Kim Pan-gon.
Another striker Godfred Karikari, who plays for China Super League side Henan, was not included in the list. The speedy forward has returned to his native country Ghana after the China season ended last month, but he still needs official papers from the Ghana Football Association before he can represent Hong Kong.
The top scorer for Hong Kong with 32 international goals, Chan is happy with his improving form three weeks after the completion of the Chinese league.
"I have been making good progress after returning to training with the Hong Kong team, and if the coach wants me to start I am ready, although I may not be able to play full 90 minutes in the beginning stages of the qualifiers," said Chan, after scoring one of the two goals when Hong Kong lost to First Division club Citizen 4-2 in a practice match yesterday.
Hong Kong will take on Guam in their opening match on Saturday. The other three teams in the qualifiers are Australia, North Korea and Taiwan. Only the top team after a single round robin will make it to next year's finals against regional giants China, Japan and South Korea.
The 27-year-old scored four against Guam in the same tournament three years ago. But it is a different Guam side now after they recently recruited some Americans, including midfielder Ryan Guy from MLS side New England Revolution. There are also players from the NCAA level in the United States.
Hong Kong coach Kim yesterday urged his charges to "fight for Hong Kong" after their defeat by Citizen, saying his players were not mentally well prepared for an important tournament. "I hope the three-day training camp starting from tomorrow can help them keep focused," said Kim.