Johannesburg - While South Africa are ranked one place higher than the tourists, national men's hockey coach Charlie Pereira says they consider themselves as underdogs heading into a four-match series against Malaysia.
Pereira said on Friday, after naming a 22-man squad, that most of South Africa's players were amateur, while the Malaysian team had a professional setup.
“That is our challenge as an amateur body,” Pereira said.
“Our last competitive game was against Chile in Rio [three months ago].
"Malaysia have developed into a very good unit and the series will no doubt be tough, but we are only going to improve if we continually play better opposition."
Pereira remained confident that his team could hold their own against the tourists.
"We do, of course, have some world-class players in our team and are not about to back off to any team that we face," he said.
"If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is required for victory.”
Lloyd Madsen and Justin Reid-Ross, two of South Africa’s key players in recent years, were not included in the squad.
“Lloyd and Justin were unavailable to attend the (recent training) camp and therefore made themselves unavailable for selection,” said Pereira.
Regular captain Austin Smith was appointed to lead the team again after Rhett Halkett took over for the World League round two tournament in Rio.
The first three Tests between South African and Malaysia will be played in Potchefstroom next week, and the fourth and final match is in Johannesburg.
Pereira said the 18-player squad for the World League semi-finals in Malaysia would be announced after the series.
SA men's hockey squad:
Rassie Pieterse, Jacque le Roux, Gowan Jones, Austin Smith (captain), Francois Pretorius, Ashlin Freddy, Rhett Halkett, Ricky West, Lance Louw, Jethro Eustice, Jonty Robinson, Clint Panther, Wade Paton, Tim Drummond, Nic Gonsalves, Taylor Dart, Julian Hykes, Taine Paton, Craig Haley, Matt Botha, Pierre de Voux, Miguel da Graca.