THE cream of Asian junior shuttlers will converge on Hong Kong next week for the Prince Asian Junior Badminton Invitational. Players from 11 foreign countries, including badminton superpowers like China, Indonesia and Malaysia, have entered for the tournament which the local body hopes will pave the way for an Asian Junior Championships. 'Looking at the entry list for our event shows that most Asian countries are keen to give their top junior players international exposure,' said Hong Kong coach Chan Chi-choi. 'There is obviously a need for an Asian Badminton Championships, and I'll be lobbying for support from the visiting officials to ask the Asian Badminton Confederation to organise such an event. 'Europe have their own junior tournament every year, and it's about time we had one in Asia. It would be a tremendous boost for the budding young players.' A record 174 players have entered for the Prince tournament, from August 22 to 26, which features a mixed team competition and 10 individual events - boys' and girls' singles for 15, 16, 17 and 18 year age groups, and 18-and-under doubles. China, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong are each fielding two squads for the team championship, while Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Macau and the Philippines have each entered one team. Hong Kong have a tough draw with the A squad slotted into Group D with China A, Thailand A and Myanmar, while the local B team are in Group C with Malaysia, Thailand B and Japan. Only the group winners go through to the semi-finals. 'Our prospects look dim because the opposition in both groups are equally strong,' said coach Chan. 'Actually it will be the same in any group because the best Asian players, with the exception of the South Koreans, are coming. The Koreans have just competed in an Asia-Europe Challenge and are taking a break. 'China, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand have named their strongest squads.' Hong Kong's top hope in the individuals' event will be Liu Kwok-wah in the boys' 17-and-under division. The Tak Yan School pupil won the 16-and-under title last year.