'I'm very happy. We believe in ourselves now,' says South China's Szeto as only four foreigners are picked to start The Hong Kong League XI will rely on only four overseas players in their starting line-up for Thursday's match against Honduras, much to the delight of the Cantonese players who make up the majority of the squad. 'It's a good chance for the Cantonese players to learn more about international football,' said 35-year-old veteran Lee Kin-wo, who will be one of the seven local products taking to the Hong Kong Stadium pitch for the Carlsberg Cup. 'It's a good opportunity.' 'I'm very, very grateful and happy,' added South China midfielder Szeto Man-chun. 'We're having to play fewer and fewer foreign players each year. The FA is giving the local players a chance and as a result the local players are growing up.' Coach Kenny Lai Sun-cheun's decision is in stark contrast to just two years ago when the Hong Kong XI that reached the final, after beating China on penalties, at one point featured nine legionnaires and only one local outfielder. Lai made his pronouncement after watching his team go through their paces against the rest of the squad in a practice match at a rain-sodden So Kon Po yesterday. 'When I coach a Hong Kong team it is always in my mind to support our local players. They've played well in the last three competitions - the Asian Cup qualifiers, the East Asian Football Championship and the Hong Kong-Guangdong Cup - and we need to carry on,' he said. Victory over Thailand in Tashkent and battling performances against East Asia's giants, particularly in the 1-0 defeat to Japan, in December has revived interest in Hong Kong football and Szeto argues that playing in the Carlsberg Cup is essential if the national team are to improve. 'We need more chances to experience playing other national teams. We can learn from them. We need these chances,' the 28-year-old said. 'We've learned a lot in the past year and we believe in ourselves now. We now know we can organise a good defence. Now we're working more on attacking and how to build a complete team.' The foreign contingent in the squad has been reduced to seven following the withdrawal of Sun Hei's Brazilian midfielder Jose Ricardo Rambo with a foot injury. That, together with a thigh strain suffered by young Rangers defender Chan Wai-ho that prevented him training yesterday, allowed Lai to call up Sun Hei's Poon Man-tik and 22-year-old Guangzhou Xiangxue defender Ng Wai-chu, the only Hong Kong player with a Chinese national league club. Ng goes straight into the starting XI, having originally declared himself unavailable. 'After the Hong Kong-Guangdong Cup he told us he had to stay and train with Guangzhou. By the time he called to say he could play we'd already chosen the squad, but Rambo's injury meant we could bring him back in,' Lai said. Ng will partner Sun Hei's Brazilian Cristiano Cordeiro in the centre of defence. While Happy Valley's Cameroonian strongman Ambassa Guy will feature in midfield and another of Sun Hei's Brazilians, Marcio Anacleto, will partner Indonesian Rochi Putiray in attack. Lai revealed his original plan was for even fewer foreigners, but striker Wong Chun-yue, who was a revelation in the Asian Cup qualifiers, hadn't shown enough in training. 'Originally I wanted only Marcio, but Wong Chun-yue has been a bit too quiet and Rochi is a clever player and fast.' Hong Kong League XI probable starting line-up Goalkeeper: Fan Chun-yip (27 years old, Happy Valley). Defenders: Cristiano Cordeiro (30, Brazil, Sun Hei), Lee Kin-wo (35, Sun Hei), Lee Wai-man (30, Happy Valley), Ng Wai-chu (22, Guangzhou Xiangxue), Poon Yiu-cheuk (26, Happy Valley). Midfielders: Ambassa Guy (25, Cameroon, Happy Valley), Szeto Man-chun (28, South China). Strikers: Cheung Sai-Ho (28, Happy Valley), Marcio Anacleto (27, Brazil, Sun Hei), Rochi Putiray (33, Indonesia, Kitchee).