MALAYSIA'S Olympic campaign received an early blow when No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar had to rush back due to a personal tragedy, but the rest of the players are determined the show must go on.
Kumar, who has saved Malaysia many times with his heroics antics, lost his three-year-old son due to illness and will be replaced by Hafizuddin Othman.
Now the only player in the team who has been to the Olympics, Roslan Jamaluddin, will be trusted to stand between the posts.
"It is a great loss not only to Kumar but also to the entire team because we are not only team-mates but also family. The only thing that I cam say now is that I will give my very best to make sure Malaysia qualify for the Olympics, a platform which Kumar really wanted to play in," said Roslan who is the last remaining member of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
There was a somber moment as the players lifted their gear and placed it onto the bus heading for a training session. Gone were the normal laughter and teasing and joking seen during other tournaments.
"Our hearts are very heavy and we still can't digest the bad news which has befallen Kumar. However, one thing is for sure, the entire team has a stronger resolution to qualify for the Olympics," said Kuamar's room-mate Baljit Singh Charun Singh.
The road to Rio de Janeiro is hinging on three matches for Malaysia. Its looks easy, and also rosy, but could also turn into a nightmare if they fall in the first hurdle.
China are first on the schedule, and a win here is must for Tai Beng Hai's men to keep the Olympic hope burning.
And the fixtures have been drawn akin a blessing as Ireland are a distant three rest days later and three points against the Irish will see Malaysia qualify for the quarter-finals on a better footing.
Belgium and Britain are the last two hurdles, but if both China and Ireland are tamed, Malaysia can afford to lose both the other matches and still finish third in Group B.
And if it goes as planned, the third placing will see Malaysia play either India or Pakistan in the last eight.
So in toal, only three matches needed to be won in the World League Semifinals for Malaysia to achieve their Olympic dream.
But if they crumble and finish fourth, mighty Australia will await them in the quarters. The worse case scenario in Belgium is finishing a disastrous fifth in Group B, which automatically shuts the door as there is no playoff here.
In Group A are Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France.
For the record, Malaysia played two friendlies against Brazil (won 3-2) and Netherlands Under-21 (lost 2-1) as their last warm-ups.
"Everybody wants to win but sometimes, we need to hold back to avoid injuries leading into an important tournament," said Beng Hai.