NATIONAL soccer coach Chan Hung-ping believes Hongkong's policy of allowing five overseas professionals in each First Division team is holding back the development of homegrown players. Despite the current quota level being reconfirmed at a meeting of leading clubs this week, Chan would like to see the number reduced to four to give more opportunities to local Chinese players. After Wednesday's World Cup qualifying defeat by Lebanon in the Asia Group D second phase in Seoul, South Korea, Chan said a lack of depth in his 22-strong squad had left him with inadequate cover for a couple of key players who were missing because of injury. Of the 22 players representing Hongkong in Seoul, four of them are not even first-team regulars with their clubs in the First Division. Said Chan: ''From a commercial point of view the clubs like more foreign players because it brings in more people to watch the games. ''I agree with that but, at the same time, I would like to see more positions open for the Chinese. ''If clubs want to make it more exciting then why not have eight or nine foreign players in each team? You must look at it long-term and by reducing the number of foreign players it would lead to a stronger Hongkong team. ''Maybe clubs could sign five but play only four at any one time.'' In Hongkong this season, some clubs have had as many as seven overseas players on their books but have been able to field only five of them. Recently there were moves to increase the number to six but at a meeting on Tuesday night senior clubs decided tostick to five for next season. ''If they agree five or six it's all right by me because they are the bosses. But if I had a say I would prefer four,'' added Chan. ''It would give more chances for newcomers and youngsters, whereas at the moment players at youth level will get disappointed if there is no chance to go into the First Division.'' After defeats by South Korea and Lebanon in the Seoul Olympic Stadium, fourth-placed Hongkong take on second-placed Bahrain today looking for a repeat of the 2-1 win they earned in the first phase of games in Beirut. Before yesterday's training session, Chan made it clear that his team must show a big improvement on Wednesday's dismal display against Lebanon, who were allowed to come back to win 2-1. Hongkong (probable): Chung Ho-yin; Chiu Chun-ming; Shum Kwok-pui, Wong Wai-tak, Lee Wai-man; Loh Wai-chi, Chan Chi-keung, Tam Siu-wai, Cheung Kam-wa; Lee Kin-wo, Au Wai-lun.