MALAYSIA Hockey League Premier Division double champions Kuala Lumpur HC has claimed the underdogs tag, as their hunt for quality players has hit a brick wall.
On the other hand, two-season team Terengganu are flushed with local and foreign talent, and look set to be the team to beat when the MHL starts on Oct 29.
KLHC, the four-time back-to-back double champions, will open accounts against Tenaga Nasional in the Charity Shield.
“I believe we will face a trough time this year, and it would be difficult to even make the top four as we have lost many players to other teams, and are also finding it difficult to source for foreign players as the Champions Trophy (13-21 Dec in India) will clash with the MHL.
“Like last year, we are also looking for six foreign players, but have yet to sign any due to the clash of dates,” said KLHC team manager George Koshy.
But KLHC can’t scout for top players from the eight Champions Trophy teams in India, Pakistan, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, Argentina, England and Germany.
In the Premier Division last season, the seven teams which competed were KL Hockey Club, Tenaga Nasional, Maybank, Sapura, UniKL, Terengganu and MBI-Nur Insafi.
Terengganu, even with top local players, fared badly last season as they ended fifth out of seven teams in the league, and were also demoted to Division Two in the Razak Cup.
However, Terengganu are said to have signed six quality foreign players as well as national players to make them the favourites this season.
“Last year, Terengganu has the best local players but were unlucky they could not gel and play as a team. However, I believe they are ready in their second MHL season, and we can’t hope for them to hit another bad patch and hand us the titles,” said Koshy.
The final is slated on Dec 21 to give the national team time to prepare for the World League Second Round in Singapore on January 17-25.
If Malaysia fail to win gold in the Asian Games, where they will battle South Korea, India and Pakistan, the World League is a second chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.