KUALA LUMPUR: National women's coach K. Dharmaraj welcomes the return of Singapore in the Razak Cup as he believes his trainees will benefit from playing against committed opponents.
The Razak Cup will be held on Oct 26-Nov 3, with both the men's and women's events held at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Singapore men will play in Division Two, while their women in Group A.
Last year Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia played in the men's Division Two, while only Indonesia were the foreign team in the women's event.
This year, the men's event will not have national players who are in Oman for the Asian Champions Trophy as well as preparing for the World Cup in November, while the women's event will have national players to make it more competitive.
Speaking about the women, Dharmaraj believes Razak Cup and then the national league next year should have more foreign players to raise the standard of his charges.
"I welcome the Singapore national team to give our players a healthy competition in the Razak Cup. We need to play regularly with players from other countries to become stronger.
"National players will compete in the Razak Cup, aside from the eight engaged in Europe leagues right now and those who will be sitting for their SPM examinations.
"The rest return to their states and I hope Singapore gives every state a good fight to raise the standard of women's hockey in the country," said Dharmaraj.
As for the men's event, last season's semi-finalists Negri Sembilan wants to break their jinx and win the tournament.
Negri manager S. Chandran said: "With national players out of the Razak Cup, every state will have an equal chance to win the title and we hope to lay our hands on it after being bundled out of the semi-finals last year."
Negri will field eight Malaysia Games players while the rest are former club or national palyers.
Last year in the semi-finals, Terengganu beat Negri Sembilan 2-1 while Perak beat Malacca 2-1 in shoot-out after the match ended 0-0.
Perak beat Terengganu 3-2 for the men's title while Selangor beat Pahang 5-2 for the women's crown.
Men -- Division One: Group A: Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Negri Sebilnan, Perlis; Group B: Malacca, Penang, Johor, Terengganu.
Sports Journalist with the New Straits Times since 1994.
My main beat is field hockey, so this blog will have stories that I have written for the NST, as well as hockey news from around the globe. There will be regular updates. I was also the Secretary General of the National Press Club, Malaysia for three terms (six years).