KUALA LUMPUR: Pahang team manager Nuriza Sulaiman has cautioned the defending champions not to be ‘over confident’ despite having the services of seven national players and one ex-international in the squad.
The timely warning comes as Pahang enjoy the ‘favourites tag’ in the second edition of the TNB-Women's Tun Abdul Razak Cup, which starts on Saturday and ends on Nov 26, at the KL Hockey Stadium.
The week-long championship is hosted by the KL Hockey Association.
“It is dangerous to be over confident. Yes, we have a strong team on paper with national players but we must respect our opponents in every match.
"They are all preparing well for the tournament and anything can happen if we do not take them seriously,” said Nuriza.
Pahang have in their line-up defender Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani, midfielder Wan Norfaiezah Saiuti, drag-flick specialist Nuraini Rashid, Rabiatul Adawiyah Mohamed, S. Priyangga, Siti Zaidah, Fatin Nuraini and former international Nadia Abdul Rahman.
"We will have three training sessions here to adapt with the pitch ahead of our first match.
"Our target is to retain our title and we hope to achieve this mission,” she said.
Pahang are in Group A with KL, Perak, Terengganu and Indonesian.
Group B consists of Selangor, Armed Forces, Melaka and Johor.
Pahang will open their campaign against Terengganu on Saturday followed by matches against KL (Nov 19), Indonesia (Nov 20) and Perak (Nov 21).
The classification matches begin on Nov 23.
“We have seen the Indonesians compete in the recent Sea Games.
"They are decent and we have to respect them, just like the other teams in the tournament.
"We will go into the tournament and take one match at a time,” said Nuriza, adding that Pahang have a tight fixture in the tournament.
“We play four matches over four days and it is going to be taxing.
"However, the fitness level of the players is good, especially the national players, who have just returned from the Asia Cup recently.
Coach Ashraf Benedict Abdullah, a former international, will step down as the team's trainer after the tournament.
"He has been coaching the state team for 22 years and winning the championship again will be a grand gift.
We aim to present him with this special gift,” said Nuriza.
Pahang won the inaugural championship last year following a 4-0 mauling of Armed Forces in the final.