Malaysia face tough Commonwealth Games
14 Oct 2005 07:35
New Straits Times: Malaysia's men will open their Commonwealth Games campaign against India in Melbourne on 17 March. The Malaysians will also have to contend with another Asian giant, Pakistan, who are also in Group B with Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa for the March 15-26 Games.
Malaysia moved up a notch to 13th after the African Nations tournament, but besides Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 23rd in the World, the battle in Melbourne is expected to be tough.
"India (ranked sixth) and South Africa (11th) have qualified for the 2006 World Cup, and I expect them to use the Commonwealth Games to boost their sides," said national coach Wallace Tan.
"It is a tough group for us as we (Malaysia) will still be in the process of team building for the World Cup Qualifier during that period."
The good news though is that young strikers Ismail Abu and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin have shown tremendous improvement.
"Ismail and Tengku showed great form in the recent Japan Test series (where Malaysia scored all five goals in three matches off field attempts) and the rise of a young strikeforce will help us break free from relying on penalty corner goals," added Tan.
In Group A are hosts Australia, ranked World No 1, New Zealand (ninth), England (10th), Canada (16th) and Scotland (22nd).
Each group has six teams and the top two qualify for the semi-finals.
Malaysia, the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games silver medallists, must reach the semi-finals in Melbourne to show to the world that they are ready to be among the five teams which will qualify for the World Cup in Germany next year.
The Malaysian women’s team, 25th in the world, have been drawn in Group A with Australia (fourth), South Africa (11th), India (13th) and Nigeria (22nd). In Group B are New Zealand (sixth), England (eighth), Scotland (17th), Canada (22nd) and Barbados (28th).