MALAYSIA have been drawn in the 'Group of Death' for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games men's hockey competition. The team are in Pool A alongside world champions Australia, India, Pakistan and Scotland. England, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago make up Pool B for the event scheduled to be played at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Oct 4-14.
The Malaysian players will be in the same group as powerhouses world champions Australia, India, Pakistan and Scotland.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has said that the New Delhi Commonwealth Games should be treated as nothing more than a build-up towards the Guangzhou Asian Games (Nov 12-27) where the gold medallist earns a place in the 2010 London Olympic Games.
National coach Stephen van Huizen picked a pool of 30 trainees early this year with the intention of mixing and matching his players for both tournaments.
"Of course, the Guangzhou Games is top priority for all Asian teams including India and Pakistan who both are also competing in the Commonwealth Games," said Van Huizen yesterday.
"I have 30 players in my training squad. We will threat both tournaments with equal importance but the Asian Games will be given extra emphasis.
"We have not decided on the squad for either tournament. It will decided after a few international matches and the availability of players."
Malaysia have one confirmed tournament in Dahlian, China in July. Van Huizen is also looking at playing international matches in either Australia or Europe ahead of their two major assignments.
On the Commonwealth Games, Van Huizen said Malaysia are ranked fourth in Pool A behind Australia, India and Pakistan.
"No doubt it is a tough group. However, the other group is equally tough and so it does not matter where we are placed," said the coach.
"I am not in the position to set a target for this competition. It will be decided by MHF."
Malaysia have returned with medals on the two occasions they competed in the Commonwealth Games.
Hockey was included for the first time in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur edition, and the national team surprised with a silver medal.
Malaysia did not qualify for the 2002 Manchester Games but four years later took bronze at the Melbourne edition. In New Delhi, Malaysia will open accounts against India on Oct 5 followed by Pakistan (Oct 6), Scotland (Oct 8) and Australia (Oct 10).
THE GROUPINGS -- Men's Pool A: Australia, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Scotland; Pool B: England, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago.
Women's Pool A: Australia, South Africa, India, Scotland, Trinidad & Tobago; Pool B: England, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, Wales.