Malaysian women’s team goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya can expect a strong attacking opposition when they play Hong Kong in their opening Group A match of the Asian Games at the Gelora Bung Karno hockey Stadium.
The Hong Kong team has decided to put the pressure on the Malaysians and will seek to get the early goals in their bid to snatch a win.
Hong Kong coach Ariff Ali said the pressure is on the Malaysians and they will seek for an upset.
“My players are the underdogs here. They tend to play better without the pressure. We have some changes from the World Series Round One. So, it is a different team and by far a more experienced one. Several of my players have foregone their holidays to play in the Asian Games. They are very committed,” he added.
Farah Ayuni said that she expected the Hong Kong team to come at them from the start.
“I do not think that there is any reason to think we will have it easy. Our group has two big teams in China and Japan. They are expected to top the tables. Then we have Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei.
“I am ready for the game and hope that we can play to instructions and secure full points,” she said.
The affable Farah Ayuni is 28 years old and hails from Johor.
Farah Ayuni said that the players are determined in wanting to make the semis.
“A top-four finish is a realistic target for us. But then the group stages will be the initial hurdle.
“Most of the players have played together for some time now and have a good understanding. We must be consistent and not miss the chances that come our way. For me all the teams are of good standard and will not be easy to beat”, she added.
In 2016, Farah Ayuni was awarded Best Asian Goalkeeper during the Asian Champions Trophy 2016 held in Singapore.
Even the China head coach Jamilon Mulders, from Germany, had praise for the Malaysian team.
He said they are a tough team to beat now.
“They have a very promising side and play good hockey. I like the way they play. They are very determined and in recent years had got some good results.
“This tournament is an important one for all teams as the winner gains an automatic place for the 2020 Olympic in Japan.
“So, one can be assured that every team will try hard to win their matches. There is no exception,” he said.
Sunday Fixtures (All Malaysian times)
Japan vs Chinese Taipei – 5.00pm
Malaysia vs Hong Kong – 7.00pm
Thailand vs Kazakhstan – 3.00pm
India vs Indonesia – 9.00pm