The Malaysian women’s hockey team is gearing up for a winning start against Hong Kong in their opening Group A match in the Asian Games hockey event here on Sunday.
The team was bustling with confidence as they took to the pitch at the Gelora Bung Karno Hockey Stadium in their first training session on Friday, having arrived in Jakarta a day before.
The team has a top-four target at the Games and the players are aware of the daunting task that awaits them.
Besides Hong Kong, the other teams in their group are China, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. The Group B teams are South Korea, India, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.
But the team had a slight scare at training as four players were reported injured.
They are Nur Syafiqah Mohd Zain, Nuraslinda Said, Surizan Awang Noh and Nur Amirah Shakirah Zulkifli.
But notwithstanding the scare, the coaches are confident they will be back on track with their preparations.
The Malaysians, ranked 22, are hoping to get a semi-final place and hope to keep a winning momentum going before meeting with the elite teams like China and Japan.
Having had a training stint in Brisbane, the team coached by Dharmaraj Abdullah have improved tremendously over the past two years.
“I believe that we stand a good chance at getting a result. But we need to work it game by game. The injuries don’t appear serious and we will have them back in time for the game. It is the usual injuries during a training phase,” he said.
After the opening match, Malaysia will take in China with a three-day break.
The Malaysians are also aware that teams like China, Japan, and South Korea who are usually the front-runners at these Games will be fully fit for the battle in Jakarta.
All three teams had a bad result in the London World Cup early this month.
Only the Indian team did well and are a potential gold medallist here.
“Yes, these four teams are better ranked than us and will be the teams to beat. With an Olympic qualification at stake, I am sure we can expect some surprise results. We need to do our part and be ready to take advantage of any situation,” he said.