Local giants South China, who have vowed to regain the First Division title, suffered a major setback yesterday when they were defeated 3-1 in a friendly match by newly promoted side Sai Kung Friends. The defeat came six days before the Caroliners' league opener on Sunday against arch rivals Instant-Dict, the defending champions, at Mongkok Stadium. South China's new Brazilian coach Casemiro Mior slammed the team's performance, saying it was the worst game of their pre-season buildup. 'Something has gone wrong with the players' mentality. I don't know why the problem came up suddenly,' said Mior. 'Our players seemed to have lost their minds and did not know what to do after conceding the first goal.' Mior said he was satisfied with the team's performance during a trip to Guangzhou two weeks ago. They beat Guangzhou Apollo reserves and Baiyunshan, both 2-0, and lost 3-2 to Guangzhou Songri reserves. But the Caroliners' performance yesterday was disappointing from the start and they look like they will struggle to win the league championship. Both forwards Au Wai-lun and Paraguayan Fernando Ornelas barely had a chance to show their scoring abilities, while the defence were busy with waves of attacks by the opponents. Sai Kung Friends' former Brazilian youth international forward Tomy Giacomeli and midfielder Szeto Man-chun put them in a 2-0 lead at half-time and Giacomeli added another one in the second half before Ornelas scored the consolation for South China. Sai Kung Friends had the ball in the net twice more but they were ruled offside both times. Mior said the game was a good experience for South China. He said: 'I was glad that the defeat came in a friendly, not an official match. 'We now know where our problems lie and I could see who was well prepared for the game and who was not. We still have six days to correct our mistakes.' But he refused to elaborate on the mistakes. Mior also added they were hindered by injury and sickness. Brazilian central defender Cristiano Cordeiro missed the game after pulling a thigh muscle during training, while Au was suffering from fever. STARTING LINEUPS South China: 1-Mick Leonard; 2-Yau Kin-wai, 4-Lam Hiu-fung, 6-Ku Kam-fai, 18-Leung Chi-wing; 11-Lee Kin-wo, 14-Poon Man-tik, 5-Ailton de Araujo, 10-Ricky Cheng Siu-chung; 7-Au Wai-lun, 9-Fernando Ornelas. Sai Kung Friends: 18-Kan Wing-hong; 14-Au-yeung Siu-wai, 5-Sember Iorfa, 6-Hung Wing-shing; 2-Lam Ying-leung, 20-Jose Alexandre Da Costa Rosa, 25-Szeto Man-chun, 11-Wong Nga-lok, 24-Lo Yiu-hung; 9-Tomy Giacomeli, 15-Ezeh Colly Barnes.