PETALING JAYA: A bronze is the best that hosts Malaysia can hope for in the men’s indoor volleyball at the Aug 19-30 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Judging from past results, Malaysia have to beat Myanmar and Indonesia, the 2015 Singapore Games joint bronze medallists, to get on the podium.
“If we can get past Myanmar and Indonesia, then we stand a good chance of winning at least a medal. Thailand and Vietnam are the powerhouse in South-East Asia. They are in a different level,” said national coach Tay Yeu Siong.
At the Singapore Games, Thailand won the gold for the sixth time since the sport was introduced in 1977. Vietnam finished runners-up.
Yeu Siong said Malaysia lagged behind the others in the region due to a lack of quality competition.
“The other countries have their own national leagues and club competitions. This is our setback and it is difficult for us to source for players. We have to be realistic with our chances.
“The last time we won a medal – a silver – was when we hosted the 2001 Games. Expectations are high on us to deliver a medal as we are the home team. I was the coach in 2001 when we lost to Thailand in the final. It’s a tall order to even repeat that. Our aim is to qualify for the semi-finals first,” said Yeu Siong.
To build-up for the Games, Yeu Siong’s team will compete in the inaugural IJM men’s club championship at the MBSA Hall in Shah Alam from April 20-23.
Malaysia Volleyball Association (Mava) president Dr Gregory Hii Sui Cheng was grateful to IJM for sponsoring the tournament.
“We thank sponsors IJM for their assistance. We believe the Malaysian team will benefit from the exposure as each team is allowed to field two foreign players,” said Sui Cheng.
A total of eight teams will compete in the championship. The national team are in Group B with Industrial Concrete Products (ICP), Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam (MBSA) and Armed Forces.
Group A consists of Ban Hoe Leong (BHL), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Segamat and United VC.
After the championships, Mava will send the Games squad, who consist of Under-23 players, to compete in the Asian Junior Championship in Iran (May 1-10). Malaysia are drawn with Australia and China in the 12-nation tournament.