MALAYSIA IN ‘GROUP OF DEATH’

Malaysia to bat­tle the Nether­lands, Ger­many and Pak­istan in World Cup

New Straits Times - - SPORT - JUGJET SINGH jug jet@nst.com.my

WORLD No 12 Malaysia are drawn in Group D, the ‘group of death’, in the men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar, In­dia, on Nov 28Dec 16.

World No 4 the Nether­lands, World No 5 Ger­many and Pak­istan are Malaysia’s op­po­nents, and if the na­tional team fail to fin­ish in the top-three in the group, it’s an early trip home on Dec 10, as there are no clas­si­fi­ca­tion matches at 13th-16th.

The fourth placed teams in the four-group for­mat will have to pack up and leave the tour­na­ment pre­ma­turely.

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 will play cross­over matches to de­ter­mine the other four teams.

So, Malaysia must fin­ish in the top three as there will be no clas­si­fi­ca­tion matches for them to im­prove on their world rank­ings, ahead of the World Se­ries, which Malaysia hope to host and qual­ify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Malaysia need to beat Pak­istan at all cost to stay alive in the group of death.

“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.

Van Huizen's men open ac­counts against the Nether­lands on Dec 1 be­fore meet­ing Pak­istan on Dec 5 and Ger­many on Dec 9.

For the record, Malaysia rarely get a chance to play Ger­many and the Nether­lands, while Pak­istan will be in the way in the Jakarta Asian Games.

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