UNTIL Hong Kong can prove that Rahul Sharma is a 'legitimate' player, they will concentrate on the task of hammering Japan and Brunei in the preliminary round of the Asian Cricket Council tournament in Kuala Lumpur. Big wins over these two minnows of Asian cricket would keep Hong Kong's hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive. Convincing victories over Japan today and Brunei on Tuesday should boost Hong Kong's run rate - which could prove essential following the territory's shock defeat by Fiji on Friday. Playing with 10 men - all-rounder Sharma and fast bowler Mohammed Zubair were barred for eligibility reasons and the 14-strong squad missed the unavailable Mark Eames and David Jones - the territory lost by 16 runs to Fiji, a side they comfortably beat at the last ICC Trophy in Kenya. Sharma and Zubair were barred from playing after falling foul of the competition qualifying rules. Yesterday, Hong Kong coach Russell Mawhinney said that Zubair's chances of playing were slim, but that they would press for Sharma's re-instatement. 'The ACC wouldn't accept Rahul's word that he had worked for the Indian Government in Hong Kong from 1990 to 1993 and that his diplomatic passport is in the hands of the Indian Government,' said Mawhinney. 'We are now trying to get documentation proving this, and hopefully we can get it in the next couple of days.' The ACC tournament complies with ICC regulations that stipulate a player has to be locally-born, be a citizen or have lived in Hong Kong continuously for the past five years. In an emergency meeting with ACC officials yesterday, the Hong Kong team management presented a letter written by ICC chief executive David Richards to ACC official Anil Kalaver which stated: 'With regard to Sharma, it appears to be that he is eligible to play in the ICC Trophy.' However, the ACC had wanted more evidence as Richards' letter was unclear as to what documentation the Hong Kong Cricket Association had presented to the ICC in their attempt to get Sharma cleared for next year's ICC Trophy in Kuala Lumpur. Hong Kong yesterday called up Mike Swift as a replacement, and with Eames joining the tour party they should be capable of fielding a full-strength team today. Jones will join the side on Tuesday. The loss to Fiji will see Hong Kong having to depend on the run rate - if Fiji lose to other group contenders Bangladesh and Nepal.