The International Hockey Federation (FIH) served a surprise by making changes to the groupings for the Junior World Cup.
Initially Malaysia were grouped together with Pakistan, England and South Africa in Group D for the tournament that will be held at the Dyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi fromDecember 6 to 15.
However Pakistan has now been moved to Group A together with Germany, Belgium and Egypt while Korea who were initially in Group A moves to Group C together with Holland, India and Canada, thus New Zealand taking over Pakistan’s spot in Group D.
“We are surprised with the changes in groupings made but really it does not affect us at all,” said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
“But I am sure Pakistan will have a lot to say as will Korea as they are in a tough group. As for us it makes no difference between Pakistan or New Zealand as we have played both these teams before and know what to expect.”
Malaysia will open their campaign on December 6 against New Zealand and take on South Africa the next day. They play England on December 9 to complete their group matches.
Only the top two teams move into the last eight and the teams from Group D will play those in Group C, and this is where the problem begins for Malaysia.
For the two teams expected to take the top two spots are India and Holland, both whom are tough to beat. However the Malaysian Juniors have shown that if they play up to expectations, no team can stop them.
Malaysia will play India in three matches in New Delhi on October 17, 19 and 20th and should be able to gain more insights into the team that defeated them 3-0 at the recent Sultan of Johor Cup.
And for the Junior World Cup proper, Malaysia will leave for the Indian capital on December 5, giving them ample time to adjust to the winter conditions.
Germany, Pakistan, Belgium, Egypt
Australia, Spain, Argentina, France
Holland, Korea, India, Canada
New Zealand, England, South Africa, Malaysia
Note: Quarterfinals will be top two teams with Group A to meet Group B while Group C will meet Group D