DHAKA: South Korean coach Shin Kyo Seok was amazed by the ease with which Malaysia hammered China 7-1, and said he will have to put on his thinking cap to stop them in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Saturday.
Malaysia beat South Korea 1-0 in the London World League, and will square off against the Asia Cup defending champions to cement their spot in the next round.
Failing which, they have Oman to beat and qualify from Group B into the Round-Robbin.
"The Malaysian team is 'playing with maturity', very cool and comfortable with the ball. I have injected some new players into the squad after London, and need to show them the video where we lost 1-0 to get them ready.
"It will not be easy, as Malaysia also have a strong penalty corner battery, but scored six field goals as well against China.
"We just came in from a long and tiring League back home, and only had 10 days of centralised training before travelling to Dhaka.
"I could see that my players were heavy-footed against Oman and started slow but picked up momentum after half-time (to win 7-2).
"We want to play our best game against Malaysia (in the Group stage) to qualify for the next round," said Shin.
The stakes are higher for South Korea, as the Asia Cup is their last chance to qualify for the World Cup – and they have to win gold to achieve it.
As for Malaysia, win-lose-or-draw against Korea, they already qualified for the World Cup and have Oman in their last group match to make amends.
Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen and his men are sitting pretty to topple the Asia Cup champions, and everything but overconfidence is not on the menu.
"Relying on past results does not win a current match. Having said that, we know what to do against this familiar foe. Our playing styles are almost the same, but I expect the Koreans to come out much stronger than they did against Oman.
"We have our plans to stop them, and keep in sight the top position in Group A," said van Huizen.