MALAYSIA'S women's water polo team received a pleasant surprise upon their arrival in Palembang as they are assured of a medal following Thailand's withdrawal. However, chief coach Fan Kow Jan wasn't pleased with the situation.
The water polo team are assured of a medal.
Kow Jan said they wanted to win a medal on merit as they were confident of beating Thailand.
Singapore are the favourites to win and Kow Jan has now set a target of beating Indonesia for the silver medal. The Malaysian women are making their debut in the Sea Games.
"We were hoping that Thailand would play and although they are, on paper, slightly better, our girls have prepared well and have a good chance of beating them," said Kow Jan during a training session at Lumban Tirta Stadium yesterday.
"People will not recognise our achievement if we win a medal while there is also the risk of women's water polo being dropped from the Games in Myanmar (in 2013).
"The core of the team are eligible to play in the next Games and they will be deprived of the opportunity if water polo is dropped.
"Our objective now is to battle with Indonesia to earn the silver medal but it is not going to be easy. Indonesia have been training full-time for more than a year and they also go regularly to China for training stints.
"However, we defeated their back-up squad but lost to the senior squad in the Betawi Cup in Jakarta in July and we want to put up a strong resistance."
Thailand chief coach Pinate Rekhasame said the women's team, which is their Under-17 squad, was rejected by the Thailand Olympic Committee but assured they will compete in the next Games.
The waterpolo squad, mostly made of the players who competed in the Malaysia Games in June, have been training in Malacca for the last five months.
Kow Jan guided six of the Malacca players daily while the rest, four from Kuala Lumpur and three from Selangor, joined centralised training fortnightly and also travelled to Malacca on almost every weekend.
The competition begins today but the schedule and fixtures were not out as the team managers' meeting was held late last night.