Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sea Games: Malaysia in ‘dangerous’ group Printed

MALAYSIA’S defence of the Sea Games football gold medal just got a little tougher after being drawn with hosts Indonesia and regional heavyweights Thailand yesterday.
If that was not enough, the draw in Jakarta also served up a tantalising opening match against Causeway rivals Singapore on Nov 9 with Cambodia making up the five-team Group A.

Coach Ong Kim Swee’s worst fears came true as the draw virtually put all the region’s top teams except for Vietnam in one group. Vietnam have an arguably easier draw with Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Brunei in Group B.

“This is the Sea Games, anything can happen and we could get all the tough teams in the same group,” said Kim Swee.

To compound matters, the Sea Games squad were soundly beaten 3-1 by Uzbekistan in the VFF Cup Under-23 tournament in Hanoi yesterday through three second half goals.

Deputy Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim, however, said the draw should not matter as Malaysia would have to meet the strong teams eventually to retain the gold medal.

“I am confident we can get through the group stage if the team employ the right strategy. As the defending champions, it is the other teams who should fear us.

“There is no use saying we want to avoid this team or that and that only implies weakness on our part. I realise the pressure would be on us as defending champions but we must use that to our advantage,” said Razali after chairing a football development committee meeting in Bukit Jalil yesterday. — By Devinder Singh

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