THE Malaysian women's team will head for Japan on May 1, to begin a journey which coach K. Dharmaraj hopes will end at the 2018 England World Cup.
For the record, Malaysian women have yet to play in the World Cup, and have also yet to cross Round Two of the World League -- history which Dharmaraj plans to re-write.
"We will be heading for Japan for a 10-day Tour to play against their juniors. This is among the plans to get the women ready for the World League Round Two, which Malaysia will host in January.
"We have yet to advance into the WL Semi-finals, and that is what I aim to achieve with these players," said Dharmaraj.
The women are enjoying a second life under Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, as they have played in a Four-Nation in Hong Kong and became champions by beating Taiwan, Kazakhstan and the hosts,
They then went on a Tour of China, where they played five quality matches against the China juniors.
However, for the Japan Tour of five matches against their juniors, Dharmaraj will not have senior goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya and outfield player Noor Hasliza Ali -- as both of them will be attending a nine-month training stint to become Policewomen.
"Farah has been our top goalkeeper for at least seven years and in her absence I wil be fielding two juniors. Even though this might pose problems at the Japan Tour, but in the long run, it will benefit the country," said Dharmaraj.
Both the senior players, however, will be available to play in the World League Round Two in January.
In the recent WL Round One held in Singapore, Thailand became champions, Kazakhstan were second and the hosts third and all three countries will play in the WL Round Two in Kuala Lumpur.
"Four teams (including Malaysia) have confirmed for the KL World League, and I believe Ireland and Italy will be among the other four. We need to play in the final of Round Two, and qualify for the World League Semi-finals to break our duck.
"After that, I believe we have a chance to play in the 2018 England World Cup, by playing our cards right in the quarter-finals," said Dharmaraj who has coached the Malaysian men and boys at the World Cup level.