Monday, November 14, 2011

Malaysia have Korea for company

ITS official, Malaysia will play in Dublin, Ireland, for a ticket to the London Olympics and South Korea are the only higher ranked team in the group.
The Qualifier, to be held on March 11-18, will only offer one ticket to London, so Malaysia (ranked 14th) must beat world No 6 Korea, Ireland (17th), Russia (20th), Chile (24th) and Ukraine (31st).
The other men's Qualifiers will be held in India on Feb 15-26 and Japan on April 25-May 6.
India, ranked 10th, will have Canada (11th), France (18th), Poland (19th), Egypt (25th) and United States (26th).
While in Japan, ranked (15th), the other teams are Spain (four), China (16th), Austria (21st), Czech Republic (23rd) and Cuba (39th).
The Malaysian women's team (ranked 23rd), will play in the Japan Qualifier with the hosts (ninth), Azerbaijan (15th), Chile (17th), Belarus (22nd) and Trinidad & Tobago (35th).
The grouping was announced yesterday after the International Hockey Federation (FIH) held their Executive Board meeting in Lausanne over the weekend.
On the men’s side, the teams that are already qualified for the 2012 Games are Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.
Nationl chief coach Tai Beng Hai said the Malaysian group will see a tough fight between Malaysia, Korea and Ireland for the single spot.
"But having said that, we must not be overly confident against the other lower ranked teams in our group, as all of them are also capable of playing good hockey.
"I believe at this stage, it does not matter which group we are in, but making the best of what we have in Dublin and since there is only one ticket, we will fight for it till the end," said Beng Hai.
Malaysia drew 2-2 with South Korea in the Group stages of the Asian Games, and are no longer pushovers.
"Our players have shown that they no longer fear playing the Koreans and this is a plus sign that must be duplicated in Dublin," said Beng Hai.
The Azlan Shah Cup will most probably held in February next year, and it will be the final tune-up before the biggest test for Beng Hai's charges in Dublin.