Hong Kong are focusing on stopping Mitsuo Ogasawara, the 24-year-old playmaker who finally appears ready to take over the mantle of creative driving force from Italy-based midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata, as they prepare for Japan in Saitama in their second match of the EAFF Championship. The Kashima Antlers midfielder has long been touted as being the natural replacement for Parma's Nakata, but it was only his performance in his country's opening 2-0 victory over China that saw him truly unveil his talents on the international stage. Hong Kong's task is to stop him or risk the much-predicted landslide that the SAR were expected to suffer by Japanese fans prior to their gritty performance in their opening match - a 3-1 defeat to Korea. 'Ogasawara always supports the two strikers. He makes problems for the defence, but our defence is different,' said Hong Kong coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheung, who will move Sun Hei's Lau Chi-keung into a rearguard midfield role to form the top of a central defensive diamond. 'We must stay organised in midfield, especially when we lose possession. All the boys must concentrate, because when Japan win the ball their observation is very good.' To accommodate the change in formation at the back, Lai has dropped Thursday's goalscorer Lawrence Akandu, and will instead play with only one striker, Sun Hei's Wong Chun-yue, while bringing Happy Valley's creative spark Cheung Sai-ho back into the team. It's a move that has been welcomed by the players, particularly South China wing-back Szeto Man-chun. 'I think we're better with only one striker,' he said. 'We need more players in midfield, especially to stop Ogasawara. He's very skilful and smart and if we let him play we're in big trouble.' Lau Chi-keung's role is critical in the system, but the 26-year-old will not be shadowing Ogasawara wherever he goes. 'He moves over a wide area, all the way to the left and right. I can't follow him everywhere,' Lau explained. 'If he goes to the wings it's not a dangerous area. It's more important that I keep our defensive shape. If I leave the middle I will leave a very big hole.' The general feeling in the Hong Kong camp is that they match-up slightly better against the Japanese than against the more physical Koreans and that their defensive approach will not provide the hosts with as many opportunities to display their quick-fire counter-punches. 'Japan are very fast on the counter-attack,' admitted Szeto. 'They move the ball very quickly up to the strikers, but we are going to be mostly defensive and that might give them more pressure, because they need goals in case their last match against Korea is a draw. I don't think they'll find it as easy to attack with us playing defensively.' To make matters worse for Hong Kong they've lost both central defenders Ng Wai-chiu and Chan Wai-ho to knee problems, forcing Lai to bring in Rangers' Lai Kai-cheuk and Sun Hei's Man Pei-tak. Meanwhile South Korea and China will lock horns in today's other match, with Korean coach Humberto Coelho praising the progress China have made since making their World Cup debut in 2002. 'I think China is coming bigger now. It's evolving after the World Cup,' said the former Portugal national team coach. 'They have good players, good technique. It's a good team with good workers.' However Lai Sun-cheung was scathing of China's performance in their first match, pointing the finger squarely at Dutchman Arie Haan. 'China's teamwork in attack isn't so good and their organisation in defence was lousy against Japan. Japan could have scored many more goals,' he stated. 'There is no communication between the three central defenders. The coach is a problem because in China there are many talented players.'