Shell-shocked South China players will be spared the axe, despite the champions' humiliating 3-0 loss to Happy Valley on Thursday, senior officials promised. South China are known to sack players when the chips are down, having last done so in 1992 when English forwards Trevor Morgan and Steve Neville shouldered much of the blame for their poor start to the season. South China team director Peter Leung Shou-chi said no player will be sacked - for the moment - even though the Caroliners have picked up just one point from three games, starting with a 5-4 defeat by Instant-Dict followed by a shock, 1-1 draw with newly promoted Yee Hope. Leung said he had taken the responsibility upon himself, and that no players would be blamed. 'Maybe my way of managing the team is out-dated. I ask the players to resume training the day after a match. I emphasise good discipline. Maybe they can't accept my demands,' he said. 'I have told the players that we will continue with the current squad. Yes, we have had a few bad results. Let's get ourselves together and work out a way to improve.' South China have played 17 games since the end of last season, with less than a week to rest. Their recent positional changes have also come under fire from the players. Leung said in a crisis meeting on Thursday night that the management agreed to change their format, with right-back Lee Kin-wo returning to his favourite position on the right-wing, and defensive midfielder Shum Kwok-pui replacing Lee in the defence. He also admitted the players' commitment was at an all-time low, and said he was worried about the Guangong-Hong Kong Club Championship game with Guangdong Winnerway tomorrow. 'Our aim tomorrow is not to lose again,' he added. Many of the Caroliners have refused to talk about team spirit. The players left as soon as their training session finished yesterday. Rival players have noticed the Caroliners' problem, with Sing Tao defenders Gus Caesar and Paul Masefield saying they needed a rest. 'They need to refresh themselves because they have played so many matches in the past two months,' said ex-Arsenal player Caesar. 'You can't train every day. The South China players must be very tired mentally.' 'They'd be better having a few days' rest,' Masefield added. Goalkeeper Mohammed Doaye stopped a penalty by Karim Bagheri, and Saudi Arabia survived a series of other scares, for a 1-1 draw with Iran in their Asian zone Group A World Cup qualifying clash yesterday. The Iranians attacked aggressively from the start and tested Doaye several times. He saved numerous long-range shots, plus Bagheri's 28th-minute penalty, while Saudi Arabia went ahead in the 34th minute with a goal by Ibrahim Sweid. The hosts increased the pressure in the second half, and Bagheri made amends in the 62nd minute. Japan and the United Arab Emirates drew 0-0 in Abu Dhabi in Group B.