PETALING JAYA: Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj firmly believes in the credo that “winning breeds confidence”.
It will certainly come in handy in the Sultan of Johor Cup where the Malaysian team face an uphill task against Australia, India, Pakistan, South Korea and New Zealand in the inaugural tournament starting at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
“We need results to instill a winning mentality in the players,” said Dharmaraj, a former national player.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have set a target of a top two finish despite Malaysia being the lowest ranked team in the tournament.
Dharmaraj will also be without two of the best young players in the country - Faisal Saari and Firhan Ashaari - making his task even harder.
Faisal and Firhan are with the senior team for the Champions Challenge I tournament in Johannesburg on Nov 29-Dec 6.
However, the former international is not too perturbed as he is focused on the last stretch of the team’s preparations.
They will play friendly matches against Australia, at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium today, and New Zealand, tomorrow, before the final squad of 18 players is named.
“I already have 16 names in mind, the two matches will enable me to decide on the last two players for the squad,” said Dharmaraj.
“As hosts, we should field the strongest side possible but we have to make do without our two best players.
“We will definitely miss Firhan and Faisal as they would make a big difference for us in the tournament.”
On the top two finish target set by MHF, Dharmaraj feels it is not entirely an impossible task.
“It’s always good to aim high so that we have something to strive for,” said Dharmaraj, who guided KL Hockey Club to a Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) double in the 2010-11 season.