DUBAI // The UAE might have hoped they had heard all the bad news by the time they had signed off on another Cup of Nations humbling at The Sevens last night.
However, there was more to come. The really bad news is that Hong Kong, their regular tormentors and their opponents for Tuesday night, have hit form.
The defending champions in this competition have already consigned the UAE to three thrashings in the space of just over a year and a half.
But Leigh Jones, Hong Kong's senior coach, reckoned their display in beating Zimbabwe 22-7 in their opener at The Sevens was the best he has seen in three years in the Far East.
"This was a level up and I am absolutely delighted," Jones said.
"I have been involved with Hong Kong for three years and that is by far the best performance I have seen from us.
"It was a magnificent performance defensively, against quality opposition."
Both sides had new-look back-lines. Zimbabwe's leading sevens players were on duty in the IRB world series in South Africa, while Hong Kong have also left their best players in the abridged format at home.
Tom McColl, who has returned to the Hong Kong captaincy after a year out to focus on training to be a pilot, praised the new recruits.
"It was a solid defensive performance given the number of new caps we have got," the full-back said.
"They all stepped up. Defence wins matches and I think that is what happened today."
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE