By T.N. Alagesh
MALAYSIA must not underestimate the threat posed by lesser-known teams in the Olympic Qualifier which starts in Dublin, Ireland tomorrow.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah yesterday warned the national team coached by Tai Beng Hai that teams like Chile and Russia could cause an upset and ruin the country's dream of featuring in the London Olympics in July.
"The defeat in the final of the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou against Pakistan must serve as a lesson as the loss cost us an automatic spot in the Olympics.
"Now, we have to go through a qualifying round in Ireland.
"The players must be focused on earning the final ticket to the Olympics," he told reporters in Kuantan yesterday.
Tengku Abdullah said the national team were geared up for the Qualifier after preparing for months.
Malaysia, who last featured in the Sydney Olympics 12 years ago, open their campaign against Chile tomorrow, before playing Russia (Sunday), Ukraine (Tuesday), South Korea (Thursday) and Ireland (March 17).
The final and classification matches will be held on March 18.