Group B becoming tense for Malaysia

HANGZHOU: The national men's hockey squad have had a 29-goal fest at the Asian Games so far, but meeting South Korea tomorrow will be their defining moment.

Chief coach A. Arul Selvaraj said playing against Thailand, Oman and Indonesia was just a "warm-up", but if his players can't execute what he has taught them on the field and in meeting rooms, when against Korea, he will be embarrassed.

Group B saw a major upset on Thursday when hosts China stunned South Korea 3-2 and turned the points table upside down.

After Korea, Malaysia will meet a charged-up China at their own backyard, and it's not going to be as easy as the 5-1 win at the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) in Chennai recently.

China and Malaysia are now tied on 9 points while South Korea are third on six. All of a sudden, the race to the top-two positions in Group B has become more intense and interesting.

"This year itself we have met South Korea many times, on the Korean tour and then at the ACT (Malaysia won 1-0 in group stage and 6-2 in semi-finals), so my players know what to expect.

"It's just that the mind needs to be ready, the will and belief must be high. The mentality of my players is also very important and they should enjoy this match.

"I also want to see what I have taught during training and team meetings shown on the field because if the players can't do that, I will be embarrassed," said Arul.

Seasoned penalty corner flicker Najmi Farizal Jazlan has scored only three goals in three matches, and the defender felt that letting in three goals against "Sea Games standard" opponents is nothing to worry about.

"Every player needs to improve their performance against Korea and China, as this will indirectly win us three points in both matches.

"I'm not satisfied with my performance so far, so all of us need to be more enthusiastic and disciplined," said Najmi who scored four goals to help Malaysia win the ACT silver.

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