Kim Swee's charges were drawn alongside heavyweights, Saudi Arabia and South Korea in the 2014 Asian Games
BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
The draw for the football event of the 2014 Asian Games was held earlier today and Malaysia has been drawn in the same group as hosts South Korea, Asian powerhouse Saudi Arabia and fellow South East Asian side, Laos. With the presence of the home favourites as well a perennial World Cup from the Middle East, it will be an uphill battle for the Harimau Muda side to progress past the group stage.
Coach, Ong Kim Swee has already plans to take 12 players from his Harimau Muda A (HMA) squad and 13 players from both the Super League and Premier League. There will be some form of easy adjustment for many of the 13 players as they were previously with the HMA squad. The likes of Wan Zack Haikal, Fadhli Shas, Wan Zaharulnizam and Thamil Arasu won’t find that too much adaptation is needed.
It remains to be seen if expectations will change, having been drawn in such a tough group, where only the top two teams qualify for the next stage. Team manager, Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah’s target of the quarter finals, may be a bridge too far to the young Tigers. Especially given how the favourites view the group.
“Draw is not difficult. I had expected one of top teams will come to face us, we will be okay if we prepare well against Saudi Arabia. Laos is mid class team Malaysia is mid-top class team in Asia. Team Korea will start training since September 1st. We have two weeks to prepare so we will do our best to play as a team,” said South Korea’s coach, Lee Kwang-Jong.
The Asian Games football tournament is a under-23 tournament with only 3 overage players allowed. The tournament kicks off on September 14, five days before the official opening ceremony. The Malaysian team will depart for a friendly in China before settling down in South Korea.