Saturday, June 20, 2015


Malaysia open their campaign for a place in the 2016 Rio Olympics with a match against China.

Placed in a group that comprises of Ireland, Great Britain, China and Belgium, the first four matches are of academic interest.

Malaysia need to finish amongst the top four in order to make the last eight and there is where the battle starts.

Actually it is only 60 minutes that seperates Malaysia from making a return to the Olympics after a hiatus of 16 years as they last played at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Malaysia need to avoid finishing fourth in their group so that they will avoid a potential exit as meeting Australia could derail their chances.

Thus it's imperative to defeat China and Ireland, their two opponents in the first two matches.

With the withdrawal of keeper S. Kumar, it will make the task all the more tougher for Tai Beng Hai.

Beng Hai underwent a personal tragedy just before the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers at Invercargil when he had to return to Malaysia following the passing of his father in Taiping.

The stats favour Malaysia as the two teams have played 43 times, with Malaysia having won  29, drawing 6, lost 8, scored 112, conceded 57    Last meeting Malaysia won 7-3  2014  Test Match.

At the Asian Games in Korea last September, Malaysia won 3-1.

China team manager Yang Liu said they too are looking for a winning start.

“Our aim is to defy the ranking. We know that an almost impossible task awaits us. But we would like to think that some upset is possible…maybe a win or two,” he said at the K.H.C Dragon stadium.

While China spent almost a month in Europe, Malaysia were contend training at home as they only played matches against the Dutch U21 side and the Belgium reserves in May.

And for final preparations Malaysia played Brazil, hardly an ideal preparation for a major task.

Just how we fare will be determined on July 1 when the quarterfinals are held. 

But making it to the last eight should be no problem for a team that has been kept together since a year ago.