PETALING JAYA: Defending champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club’s (KLHC) coach K. Dharmaraj is expecting a tough time in their opening two matches of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) which starts on Friday.
KLHC will start their campaign against UniKL on Friday before playing the charity shield match against Tenaga Nasional on Sunday.
The double winners have lost six players to MHL’s Premier Division debutants Terengganu and have replaced them with five Pakistanis and an Australian but Dharmaraj still expects a difficult time.
Dharmaraj also pointed out the signing of the six internationals showed that the ambition of the club is to retain their MHL crowns.
Three of KLHC’s six signings – Australian Timothy Deavin and Pakistan duo Mohamed Imran and Fareed Ahmad – participated along with five other KLHC players in the recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup competition which ended on Sunday.
The other three Pakistan signings are Wassim Ahmed, Umar Bhutta and Akhtar Ali.
“I’m losing sleep over our first two matches ... the core players in my team are fatigued after playing in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
“We welcomed six new players to the team but we don’t have enough time to train and gel as a team. So winning the first two matches will be a bonus.”
KLHC were forced to look for foreign players after six of their national stars – Azlan Misron, Mohd Shahrun Nabil, Fitri Saari, Mohamed Amerullah Aziz, Ismail Abu and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin – left to join Terengganu.
“I won’t be surprised if we struggle this season ... losing six players who had been with us for six to seven years makes our title defence harder,” said Dharmaraj.
“My biggest worry is to get the team to gel quickly. I only expect the team to fire on all cylinders in the second round of the league.”