'The players were tense ... it proves no one is an also-ran in the group' Disappointed, but not discouraged. That's the mood in the Hong Kong soccer camp after their 1-1 draw with India in their group opener. India had been considered soft opposition and Hong Kong had hoped to claim maximum points, which would have made their chances of progressing out of the four-team group much easier. Although they controlled more of the match, they needed a late equaliser from Kitchee striker Chan Siu-ki to salvage the lone point. 'We could have done better because we missed a number of opportunities,' said coach Lai Sun-cheung. 'But the players were tense and sometimes they seemed too eager to win a match we were expected to win easily. This result proves no one is an also-ran in the group.' Group favourites Iran offered the best action on their opening night with some impressive runs and fine goals for a 3-1 win, but their Maldivian opponents proved no walkover. The Maldives went ahead in the 15th minute, but Iran equalised seven minutes later and sealed the victory with two second-half strikes. 'The next match against Iran will be crucial because if we lose we are almost definitely out,' said Lai. 'But I expect the boys to perform better because they have now had a chance to settle their nerves. After 90 minutes they are now used to the ground, the environment and the atmosphere of playing in major games.' Hong Kong play Iran, the defending champions, on Sunday. Assistant coach Tsang Wai-chung is also confident of an improved result against the Iranians. 'We always seem to struggle in attack against a weaker team and that happened against India. We had the upper hand, but lacked a clinical finish to kill them off,' said Tsang. 'They need time to adjust to a new environment and as we are going to have a couple more training sessions before the match against Iran, the team should be getting better and better.' Tsang, a member of the Hong Kong team in the 1980s, said it had been a long time since Hong Kong had met Iran in a major games. 'As far as I can recall, our last encounter was in the 1978 World Cup qualifiers. 'Iran are always one of the top teams in the region. They represented Asia in the 2006 World Cup and have won the Asian Games football tournament four times. But there are often unexpected results when Hong Kong play against a better side, so it is bound to be exciting on Sunday,' he said.