* Vietnam in the same group and could pose a threat to Malaysia and Thailand
* Hosts Singapore drawn in Group A with last SEA Games’ silver medallist Indonesia
Malaysia, champions in 2009 and 2011, were drawn with defending champions Thailand in Group B of the 28th SEA Games football competition when the draw was conducted at the Black Box auditorium in Singapore on Wednesday.
Vietnam are the only other strong contender and could pose a threat to Malaysia for a top two finish in the group with the top two teams progressing to the semi-final. The biennial games will be officially held from June 5-16 but the football competition will get underway on May 29.
The fight for a top two finish is expected to be between Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam who are joined by Asean’s football minnows Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste.
Group A is made up of 2013 silver medallists Indonesia, hosts Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.
Malaysia went to Myanmar as the defending champions but returned empty handed after losing 2-1 to Singapore in the playoff for the bronze medal at the Zeyar Thiri Stadium in Nyapyitaw.
In the 2011 football final played at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee led Malaysia to the football gold – often described as “Mother of all Golds” with a 4-3 triumph over Indonesia in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw – retaining the gold after Datuk K. Rajagobal won in 2009 in Laos.
However, in Nyapyitaw, Indonesia turned the tables on Malaysia with a similar 4-3 win in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw to deny Malaysia a place in the final.