IT'S CALLED the Hong Kong under-19 cricket team - but in fact more than half of the players representing the SAR at the Youth Asia Cup, which started in Pakistan on Monday, are years younger than the limit. Of the 14 boys in the squad, eight were born in or after 1986, and so are aged between 14 and 17. The younger teenagers were chosen to get valuable tournament-playing experience, said Danny Lai, general manager of the Hong Kong Cricket Association. 'We're hoping these boys will develop into the backbone of a strong Hong Kong senior team in the future,' Lai added. The competition features 10 teams, in two pools of five, who will battle for a place in the July 27 final, thus qualifying for next year's Junior World Cup. Hong Kong is in Pool B with Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman and Thailand. Having several greenhorns in the multi-ethnic squad (it includes Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese and expatriates) did not mean results would be poor in Pakistan, Lai said. 'Our under-19s are the top team in south-east Asia - they can beat the likes of Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. 'But the standard of Oman and Kuwait is unknown, and the strongest team in the region is Nepal. 'They are expected to win, but I'm confident we can finish sixth overall,' he said. A sixth-place finish would mean the squad qualifies for this year's Hong Kong Sports Development Board funding, which is crucial if the team is to make further progress by playing in more top-level overseas competitions. Hong Kong play their second pool game today against Malaysia, followed by Kuwait on Saturday and Thailand on Monday. The team lost their opening match against Oman on Tuesday. THE HONG KONG SQUAD: Kieran Kumaria (captain), Skhawat Ali (vice-captain), Yogesh Mahtani, Zain Abbas, Nicholas Lau, Nadeem Ahmed, Moazzam Ayub, Ghulam Mustafa, Matthew Lind, Zaran Vachha, Irfan Ahmed, Ansir Mahmood, Colin Bridges and Courtney Kruger. Tabarak Dar (manager), Lal Jayasinghe (coach), Philippa Stewart (physio).