PETALING JAYA: Malaysia have a herculean task in the men’s Under-23 football competition at the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea next month.
In the draw in Incheon, coach Ong Kim Swee’s team were drawn in the “Group of Death’ with hosts and three-time winners South Korea, Middle East giants Saudi Arabia and Laos in Group A.
Kim Swee admitted they have an uphill task to get out of the group.
“We are unlucky to be drawn in a tough group with two heavyweights. The South Koreans are the traditional powerhouses of the game while Saudi are also strong contenders,” said Kim Swee, who is with the Harimau Muda A squad playing in the Queensland Premier League in Australia.
Kim Swee is expected to name his final 25-player squad after the friendly against China on Sept 10.
Defending champions Japan are in Group D with Kuwait, Iraq and Nepal while four-time winners Iran start their campaign in Group H with Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan.
The tournament kicks off on Sept 14. All the teams are allowed to include three over-aged players.
A total of 29 teams will take part with the top two teams qualifying for the last 16.
Malaysia managed to qualify for the last 16 at the 2010 Asiad in Guangzhou. Malaysia’s best achievement was a bronze at the 1962 (Jakarta) and 1974 (Teheran) Games.
|Group A: South Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Laos
|Group B: Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Afghanistan
|Group C: Oman, Palestine, Singapore, Tajikistan
|Group D: Japan, Kuwait, Iraq, Nepal
|Group E: Thailand, Maldives, Timor-Leste, Indonesia
|Group F: North Korea, China, Pakistan
|Group G: United Arab Emirates, India, Jordan
|Group H: Iran, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan