The cream of Hong Kong's under-18 soccer talent is taking part in the 28th Asian Schools International Football Tournament 2000. The tournament, the top championship in the region at the under-18 level, is being held from now until August 11 in Bangkok. A total of 10 teams from Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Macau, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Hong Kong are taking part. 'These young athletes represent the finest young soccer players in the territory. They have gone through a highly competitive selection process. I'm sure they are going to the tournament in their best shape,'said John Fan Kam-Ping chairman of the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation at the flag presentation ceremony. 'It is encouraging to see that recently our athletes are getting more and more opportunities to compete in various international sports competitions. I hope our young players will benefit from these opportunities. I'm sure many of them may go on to rep resent Hong Kong in the Asian Games 2006. They should make use of these valuable opportunities to prepare themselves for the challenging tasks that lie ahead,' said Victor Hui Chun-fui, president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China. Cheung Yu-wai, captain of the team, a fifth former from the Cotton Spinners Association Pre- vocational School, said that he had been capped four times at the under-18 level for the SAR including this one. He is confident his team can make it to the semi-finals because the draw has been favourable. 'To prepare for this tournament, we have taken on a number of teams from Guangdong, Fujian, Malaysia and Brunei since last December. This year our team has been strengthened with the addition of a number of young, fast and strong players. The game against Thailand is going to be a tough one,' he said. His teammate, Chui Yiu- Chung, also a fifth former from Kei Heep Secondary School, said the team got some very outstanding strikers this year. 'During the inter-school championships in February this year we picked a number of good players for this tournament. They are strong and skilful and will stand up against teams like Thailand, which we consider as the first big hurdle.' Suen Shui-keung, the coach, however, believed that the path towards the semi-final would not be a smooth one. 'Most of our players had to sit for the HKCEE. They had to skip most of their training sessions in May, when other teams' prepa rations were in full swing. This might have put us at some sort of a disadvantage. Even though we have some tough strikers this year, it would still be a tough task against teams like Thailand, physically superior to us,' Mr Suen said. 'I am also worried about the rainy weather in Bangkok. Our team is not good at playing in wet conditions, ' he said. The SAR team is set to take on Malaysia today and will meet the hosts, Thailand on Sunday.