KUALA LUMPUR: World No 12 Malaysia are drawn in Group D, literally group of DEATH, in the men's World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, on Nov 28-Dec 16.
World No 4 Netherlands, World No 5 Germany and Pakistan are our opponents, and if Malaysia fail to finish top-three in the group, its an early Balik Kampung on Dec 10, as there are no classification matches at 13th-16th.
The fourth placed teams in the four-group format will pack and go home.
Group A has Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France; Group B: Australia, England, Ireland, China; and Group C: Belgium, India, Canada, South Africa.
The top four teams qualify for the quarter-finals automatically, while the second and third placed teams play cross over matches to determine the other four teams.
So, Malaysia must finish top three of there will not be any classification matches for them to improve on their world rankings, ahead for the World Series, which Malaysia hope to host and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The early indications are that Malaysia need to beat Pakistan at all cost to stay alive.
"Going by our world ranking, we knew roughly before the groupings were released that we will be placed in a tough group. But it's the World Cup, there are no easy teams and we have been preparing for any eventuality," said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
Going by form, if Malaysia finish third in Group D, they will face either Belgium or India, who are expected to finish 1-2 in Group C.
"We need to move up the world rankings to have a better chance of qualifying for the Olympics (if we do not win the Asian Games gold), and so, Pakistan or one of the other two teams must be beaten. No two ways about it," said van Huizen.
This is only the second time 16 teams will play in the World Cup, the first was in 2002 Kuala Lumpur where Malaysia finished eighth.
Van Huizen's men open accounts against Netherlands on Dec 1, Pakistan on Dec 5 and Germany on Dec 9 -- with plenty of rest time in between to recover.
For the record, Malaysia rarely get a chance to play Germany and Netherlands, while Pakistan will be challenged in the Jakarta Asian Games.