HONG Kong champions Eastern are expecting a tough fight when they take on Yomiuri Nippon in the Asian Champions' Cup even though the Japanese will be crippled by the absence of four key players. Yomiuri captain Tetsuji Hashiratani misses the first-leg tie in Hong Kong on October 17 together with star winger Kazuyoshi Miura, veteran defender Hasashi Kato and Ruy Ramos. The four have been selected to play for Japan in the World Cup Asian zone qualifiers in Qatar from October 15 to 28, but Yomiuri are still expected to field six Japanese internationals. Eastern manager Peter Leung Shou-chi said: ''There is a lot of depth in the Yomiuri team. ''They have the six internationals who missed out on selection for the World Cup squad, two outstanding youth players and three experienced expats. ''Yomiuri are no pushovers and we certainly won't be taking them lightly.'' The Japanese internationals leading Yomiuri's challenge are defenders Satoshi Tsunami and Koh Ishikawa, midfielders Tetsuya Totsuka and Shiroh Kikuhara and strikers Tsuyoshi Kitazawa and Nobuhiro Takeda. The Japan professional league allows teams to register three foreign players and field two, but Yomiuri can make use of all three expatriates - Brazilians Bismarck and Luiz Carlos Pereira and Dutch defender Johan van Rossum - for the Cup clash. They are further boosted by two talented young players in Yoshinori Abe and Hideki Nagai, both members of Japan's Olympic under-23 team. Eastern will rely on in-form striker Paul Nixon, Ross Greer and Tim O'Shea as their three overseas players - meaning 'keeper Iain Hesford and striker Tony Sealy will have to sit out the Mongkok Stadium tie. Leung stressed Eastern would not employ any special tactics to counter the Japanese. He said: ''We are having a good run with three wins in as many matches this season and team morale is high.'' Tickets for the clash, priced at $100, will go on sale on Monday but three sections of the stadium - totalling about 900 seats - have been designated for Japanese supporters with admission being $150. Leung said: ''We're not trying to overcharge the Japanese community but we have to set a higher price because the sections are prime seats. We will use the money to hire extra security to ensure their safety.'' The return leg of the tie will be held at the 60,000-seat Tokyo National Stadium on October 27.