South China must overcome their crisis in confidence as they take on rivals Sun Pegasus in an FA Cup first-round match at Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday night.
After three successive defeats in the regional AFC Cup and enduring an unsuccessful First Division campaign, the heavyweights cannot afford an early exit in the last tournament of the season that presents a chance of winning silverware.
"We are going through a crisis as the team have lost a couple of matches and I have yet to win a match since taking charge of the club, but I am confident we can overcome it all," said coach Yeung Ching-kwong, who took up the job in mid-February following the sudden departure of Cheung Po-chun.
"In fact, the players were not doing too badly despite the defeats in the regional cup tie. All we need to do is to secure a big win to lift morale and everything will be back on track."
South China returned to Hong Kong last week after spending two weeks in Southeast Asia for the AFC Cup and Yeung said it was a good experience. "It was like a training camp and it helped the players get to know each other better, both on and off the field as we had some new faces join in the mid-season," said the coach. "Now we will have our focus back on the domestic competitions and it's time for them to deliver."
The coach was delighted to see striker Sasa Kajkut back in form after recovering from leg muscle strains.
"He has been working very hard with the fitness coach and is getting better. He will play an important role," said the coach.
The former Bosnian international scored on his Hong Kong debut in the Senior Shield final against Pegasus in January, but his performance has since been hampered by his leg problems.
"I feel much better now after working hard to improve my physical condition," said the striker. "South China are a big club and there is always the pressure and expectation to do well.
"But as a new player, it always takes time to get to know your team and your follow players, and I am sure I can blend in well with the team now."
Pegasus got a morale boost ahead of the crucial tie by defeating I-Sky Yuen Long 4-0 in the league over the weekend. Coach Chan Chi-hong said he hoped the players could recover in time for the match.