Malaysia is aiming to win at least a bronze medal at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea from Sept 19-Oct 4. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: The national rugby team are definitely not afraid to dream big. They are gunning for an unprecedented podium finish at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, later this year.
The national team have already qualified for both Rugby Sevens events in the Asian Games (Sept 19-Oct 4) and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland (July 23-Aug 3).
And Malaysian Rugby Union (MRU) general manager Mazuri Sallehuddin said the boys are hungry for a breakthrough and “fancy their chances in Korea”.
Rugby Sevens has been part of the Asian Games for four cycles – since the 1998 edition in Bangkok.
Malaysia, however, have not made it past the quarter-final stage. Their best performance came in the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, China, where they bounced back from a quarter-final drubbing by South Korea (47-7) to finish a credible fifth by beating Sri Lanka 27-7.
“A podium finish at the Asian Games is what the boys are striving for ... They want a medal and the least we’d settle for is a bronze. Nothing else,” said Mazuri.
However, their first big test will be the Commonwealth Games. This will, undoubtedly, prove a tough task as Malaysia are in Group C with the likes of Wales, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
Malaysia and Sri Lanka are the only Asian countries slated to compete at the iconic Ibrox Stadium.
“We’re in a tough pool. Wales and Samoa are miles ahead of us, but I think we can take on Papua New Guinea. We’ve beaten them before in the 1998 Games here (in Malaysia),” said Mazuri.
“So, it’ll be nice to get a win against them again. The exposure (in Glasgow) will count for a lot. It’ll serve as very good preparation for the Asian Games.”
The team will begin preparations with a training stint with Australia’s Western Force Rugby Union in Perth (from Feb 10-24) in a bid to improve their tactical play and boost their upper body strength.
During their stay there, they will also compete in two club tournaments – the Cockburn Sevens (Feb 16) and Margaret River Sevens (Feb 22-23).