KUALA LUMPUR: World No 12 Malaysia are drawn in Group D, the ‘group of death’, in the men's World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, on Nov 28-Dec 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 agaist 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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