Antwerp: A hungry and speedy Malaysia could pose a few questions of the Indian hockey team when they two clash in the quarter-finals of the Hockey World League Semi-finals here today. The Indians won two matches and drew against Pakistan and were then outplayed by Australia.
India captain Sardar Singh
In contrast, Malaysia beat Ireland and China, but lost to Belgium and Great Britain.
It's advantage India
India has already qualified for the Rio Olympics and are better ranked, but they will be underestimating the Malaysians at their own peril. The Malaysians last played in the Olympics in 2000.
Coach Paul Van Ass said, "Malaysia is a good team and they are among the top four teams of Asia, so there is we can't take the match lightly."
Skipper Sardar Singh could not agree more. "Malaysia is a very tough team, they can't be taken lightly. They can strike at any time. They have the speed and most importantly, they are keen to get back to the Olympics."
Last time round in Azlan Shah, India beat the Australians, but lost to Malaysia and that's still fresh in Sardar's mind. "It's a knock-out game and after a two-day rest, and we are raring to go."
On India's 2-6 defeat to Australia, Sardar said, "We started slow and were defensive and gave away too many PCs (penalty corners) and they produced goals. I am hoping against Malaysia, we start with a good tempo and convert the chances we get."
Malaysian captain Rahim Razie said his team will go out against India. "This is the match we have been waiting for. We have to win this match at any cost."
In the other quarter-finals, Australia will face Ireland, Great Britain will take on Pakistan and hosts Belgium face France.
Women lose 0-7
Meanwhile, in the women's tournament, World No 1 the Netherlands beat India 7-0 in the quarter-finals.