'Keeping them down to less than double figures is a reasonable margin' From afar, China's women's hockey team looked as if they should be strutting on the catwalk rather than running around on astro-turf. But close-up, Hong Kong found out that beneath their chic appearance laid a core of steel as the mainlanders ran riot to open their campaign with an emphatic 9-0 victory. Hong Kong defended their hearts out. But China were too powerful, too fast and too keen to get the ball rolling in the four-team women's competition that also includes South Korea and Japan. All three opponents are among the world's top 10 sides, and as such this whole exercise is seen as a way forward for local hockey. 'Let's be realistic. We are up against three of the best teams in the world and we won't win anything,' said Roger Nissim, president of the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey Association. 'But our focus is on the next Asian Games in Doha where hopefully Hong Kong can send a women's team. And to maintain this focus, we have to play against the best, like China.' China's focus is on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Bitterly disappointed after losing to eventual gold medallists Germany in the semi-finals at last year's Athens Games, the Chinese women have set their hearts on winning an Olympic gold at home. 'That is our most pressing target. We will be building towards winning in Beijing. All this is a step towards that goal,' said Chinese captain Mai Shaoyan, one of three survivors from Athens. The rest of the side comprise mostly of youngsters. They are all hungry and it showed in a dazzling display of skill as they passed the ball the length and breadth of the field making Hong Kong's defence work hard to stem the tide. Despite the margin of defeat, Hong Kong head coach Kevin Knapp praised his squad for maintaining their shape and discipline throughout the match. 'This is a team that almost won the gold medal at the Olympics last year and keeping them down to less than double figures is a reasonable margin. For us the big lesson here is to know how much we can achieve by training hard,' said Knapp. It took just 90 seconds for China to get the scoreboard ticking when forward Chen Jiayan scored from a goalmouth scramble. It was the first of seven field goals, the other two coming from penalty corners. Chen added another while midfielder Song Qingling scored three. Also getting their names on the scoresheet were Huang Xuejiao, Li Hongxia, Li Aili and Sun Zhen. Hong Kong's only foray into the opposition D in the first-half occurred when Barbara Mountain made a break against the run of play. Otherwise Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng, another Olympic representative, might as well have taken the time off to file her nails or touch up her make-up. In contrast, the SAR's goalkeepers Queenie Ho Yi-shan and Lee Meichai (in the second-half) had their work cut out trying to stop the avalanche of goals. Hong Kong's defence was so committed, even to the extent of Sandra Frankland throwing her body on the line in a bid to save a fierce drive off a penalty corner. It left her with a suspected fractured thumb. 'I'm really proud of the way they played. Our goalkeepers were defending corners against one of the best teams in the world,' said Knapp. Apart from the two keepers, midfield duo Olivia Chiu and Barbara Mountain also excelled. Hong Kong might have lost, but in the eyes of Asia, they are winners merely by taking part. Japanese Olympic Committee official Fumio Ogura, who is also the tournament director, praised Hong Kong for just turning up. 'We are very pleased that Hong Kong have sent both their men's and women's teams to these games. We are grateful for this support,' said Ogura. While the Hong Kong men get regular international competition, the women are starved of foreign company. The last time they took part in a multi-sport event was back in 1986 at the Asian Games in Seoul. In the men's competition, China defeated Hong Kong 6-1. China led 1-0 at half-time before going on a second-half blitz.