Group A leaders Uzbekistan arrived for the return leg of matches in qualifying with a depleted squad. Their three UEFA Champions League stars, Dynamo Kiev striker Maksim Shatskikh, one of the three nominees for the AFC Player of the Year award, and Lokomotiv Moscow pair Vladimir Maminov and Oleg Pashinin, have all returned to their clubs. The Uzbeks, who top the group with two wins and a draw, have also lost goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov and reserve striker Alexander Geynrich who have joined the Uzbekistan squad preparing for the World Under-20 Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. Coach Ravshan Haydarov is also facing up to the realisation that his number one keeper Evgene Safanov is not going to recover from injury in time to play a part in the matches. Haydarov is hoping that the Asian Football Confederation allow them to add a new name to their registered squad of 22 players, but even if that is successful they will still have only one keeper and just 17 players to play three games in six days next week in the strength-sapping heat and humidity of the Thai capital. In comparison, Hong Kong have few such problems after their unexpected victory over the Thais. Happy Valley keeper Fan Chun-yip, who limped off with a hip injury in the second half of the 2-1 win on Monday, is suffering only from severe bruising and is expected to recover in time to perform against the hosts next Monday. His clubmate Cheung Sai-ho, who scored a collector's item with his head, is also recovering after two brutal collisions saw him stretchered off. Cheung has shown no signs of concussion, but is still sporting bandages over cuts above and below his right eye, which is still swollen. 'I think he'll be OK. The cuts are closing, even though he has a bad black eye,' said coach Lai Sun-cheung. 'He's a panda!' he joked. Meanwhile, the squad have received a fax from Timothy Fok Tsun-tin, the president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Football Association, congratulating them on their victory and encouraging them to try their best to qualify for China 2004. 'The spirit is good. It's very exciting for us. We want to qualify,' said Lai. 'Now we have a good chance the mentality has changed. They're more positive.'