THE Malaysian women's hockey team came up with some encouraging results in South Korea before heading to Japan to play in the Olympic Qualifier in Kakamigahara from April 25 - May 5.
The first match was against the Korean Sports University and the girls won 3-2, followed by a 6-1 thrashing by the Korean national side.
The Malaysians then improved but were edged 2-1 by the Korean national team in their second encounter.
Considering that Malaysia are ranked 23th in the world, while the Koreans have qualified for the Olympics, national coach Nasihin Nubli is happy with the results of the friendlies.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) senior vice-president S. Shamala said: "It was a very worthwhile trip to South Korea as the hosts did not hold back but fielded their full national squad in the second and third friendlies.
"Nasihin told me that the friendlies completed his training, and they are ready to give their best in the Qualifier."
The FIH website pronounced Japan, World No 9, and Azerbaijan, World No 15, as the front-runners for the gold medal which comes with an Olympic ticket.
"Nasihin is confident that his charges have what it takes to play in the final and their confidence was further boosted by the slim defeat to Korea in the last friendly," said Shamala.
Korea are ranked eighth in the world, one rung better than Japan -- indicating that Malaysia will give all their opponents a tough fight in Kakamigahara and not just make up the numbers.
Malaysia take on Azerbaijan in their opener on Wednesday, followed by Japan (April 27), Belarus (April 29), Chile (May 1) and Austria (May 3).
MALAYSIA: Farah Ayuni Yahya; Norhasikin Halim; A. Kannagi; Noor Hasliza Ali; Siti Noor Amarina; Juliani Din; Norbaini Hashim; Siti Shahidah Saad; Nor Azlin Sumantri; Nuraini Rashid; Nadia Rahman; Sebah Kari; Siti Rahmah Othman; Fazilla Slyvester Silin; Siti Noor Hafiza; Rabiatul Adawiyah; Nurul Nabihah; Raja Norsharina ; Coach: Nasihin Nubli; Assistant coach: Hanapi Hassan; Manager: Ernawati Mahmud.