PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's last encounter with China in a football match five years ago was a nightmare.
The team under the charge of Abdul Rahman Ibrahim were handed a 1-7 rout in the invitational Dunhill Cup tournament in Vietnam in 1999.
This time, the national Under-23 team under the charge of Englishman Allan Harris have an acid test in their second match in Group A of the pre-Olympic Asian Finals against the same opponents in Wuhan on Saturday.
China are a good team, said the Harris, whose side will be hard pressed to get a favourable result even though they are back at full strength with the return of three defenders from injuries Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Marzuki Yusof and Yosri Dermaraju.
In their opening match of the tournament at home on March 3, Malaysia were beaten 1-4 by Iran.
Malaysia led with a 34th minute goal by Mohamed Fadzli Shaari but allowed the Iranians to hit back with goals by Arash Borhani and Mehrzad Madanchi in the 40th and 43rd minute respectively. The Iranians scored two more goals through Iman Mobali in the 58th and 70th minute.
Harris said that the two first half goals they conceded against Iran were the turning point of the match and he hoped the team had learnt from the mistakes.
The team left early yesterday morning for Wuhan.
Harris has voiced dissatisfaction over the team's preparation for the tournament. They won the two warm-up matches against weak opponents Maldives national team (2-0) and Singapore's Tanjung Pagar United (5-0) before opening their campaign against Iran.
Malaysia received a first round bye and walked into the three-group Finals of the Asian qualifiers thanks to the withdrawal of Turkmenistan in the second round.
Malaysia's other opponents in the group are South Korea. They will be at home to the Koreans on March 24.