THREE-TIME Olympian and national skipper Mirnawan Nawawi is in Dublin to support the national team, and after watching them whip Chile 5-1, he feels this is Malaysia's best chance to get back into the Olympics after 12 years in the cold.
Mirnawan first played in the 1992 Bercelona Olympics at the age of 20 where Malaysia finished ninth, and then as a 24-year-old, he led the charge at the Atlanta Olympics where Malaysia finished 11th.
Mirnawan's hat-trick as an Olympian was in Sydney 2000, where Malaysia again ended 11th.
He was once among the most feared strikers in the world, and his presence was immediately felt at the Universiti College Dublin Stadium by the Malaysians who are studying or working here.
"It was a slow start against Chile but the team showed composure by coming back strongly in the second half and that indicates they have what it takes to win this tournament," said Mirnawan.
Mirnawan is now the team manager of Project 2013, who will be playing in the Junior Asia Cup in May, which is also a qualifier for the Junior World Cup.
"I know all the senior players very well and my take is that they will collect maximum nine points from the first three matches and then beat either South Korea or Ireland and make the final," predicted Mirnawan, who watched South Korea hammer Ukraine 8-2 on Saturday, and added: "Ukraine are an inexperienced side but they are hard-running and quite dangerous on the counter attack.
"Malaysia must not give them much space and need to win as many penalty corners as possible as their penalty corner defence is not very strong.
"Their goalkeeper is quite sturdy under attack, but he is weak in penalty corner defence, and this is where Malaysia need to make full use of our three flickers to get as many goals as possible."
Malaysia next play Ukraine, and flickers Razie Rahim, Faizal Saari and Amin Rahim should get their names on the scoreboard again.