Pic: K. Rajan
SINGAPORE hockey coach K. Rajan is being realistic by preparing his team to defend their 2015 Sea Games silver medal, as Malaysia are too strong for this region's teams.
The men's and women's field hockey will see Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand competing against the hosts.
And in the indoor event, the Malaysian men will be up against Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines. The women will play against Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines.
Malaysia have set their sights on a clean sweep, and while three golds are almost assured, the women's indoor team are expected to receive a stiff challenge from Thailand.
"Since Malaysia will be fielding their World League (Semifinals) team in the Sea Games, they are not our competitors in the Sea Games. We will focus on beating Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia to play in the final.
"Realistically, these three teams are our competitors in the Games, and we are preparing to beat them," said Singapore coach K. Rajan.
Rajan, a former Malaysia national juniors coach, is plying his trade overseas and after a stint in Thailand, he is the national coach for Singapore now.
A report online had said that based on the 2015 Singapore Sea Games results, Rajan and his men have a chance of winning gold in Kuala Lumpur.
But in 2015, Malaysia fielded their Under-21 side but still held SIngapore 2-2 and won the gold in a 4-3 shoot-out win.
"Back then, we played an Under-21 team and the final was at home in front of a capacity home crowd.
"Buy this time around we will be playing against a team which has qualified for the 2018 World Cup (by finishing fourth in the WL Semifinals in London).
"Malaysia have the capability to score double digit wins against any Sea Games side which takes them lightly," said Rajan.
Rajan and his men are down in Kuala Lumpur playing friendlies against club sides. They lost the first friendly 5-3 to a Malaysian team made up of former national players.
"We will be back two more times to play friendlies against club sides in Malaysia are I believe it would be enough for us to reach our target of playing in the final," said Rajan.
Malaysia are 14th in the World while Singapore are not even rated in the top 38 International Hockey Federation (FIH) rating.
In the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) rating, Malaysia are fourth while Singapore 10th.