The opposition at the SEA Games floorball competition is almost certain to be tougher than at the 2015 edition, but the Singapore men and women's team captains are confident about retaining the gold.
Floorball made its debut at Singapore 2015 but was not included in the 2017 programme. It will return for the Nov 30-Dec 11 Games in the Philippines.
Syazni Ramlee and Debbie Poh, who lead the men and women's teams respectively, expect stronger opponents this time because of the improvements their regional counterparts have made.
Poh, 31, feels Thailand will be the biggest threat and noted the emergence of Malaysia and the Philippines.
There are some rookies in her squad but she said they were ready and had "good speed, endurance and game sense".
She added: "We're definitely better prepared (than in 2015) because, even though we didn't compete at the 2017 SEA Games, there were other tournaments like the Asia-Oceania Floorball Confederation (AOFC) Cup."
The women won last year's AOFC Cup and were fourth this year.
Winning is easy, defending is another thing... But I'd rather make my opponents feel fear instead of (thinking of) pressure.
SYAZNI RAMLEE , Singapore men's floorball captain, on the pressure of being defending SEA Games champions.
They now train six days a week, and some players have been scheduling extra sessions outside of official practice hours to sharpen their techniques.
About half their team is from 2015 while, for the men, it is a quarter of the team.
The players received their floorball jerseys for the Games, provided by apparel sponsor Thorb, at Our Tampines Hub yesterday.
Men's captain Syazni admitted he feels "a bit of pressure" about his side's title defence, saying: "Winning is easy, defending is another thing, knowing that the opponents will go hard on us.
"But I'd rather make my opponents feel fear instead of (thinking of) pressure."
The men won the AOFC Cup in July after trouncing Thailand 17-1 in the final. But the 28-year-old cautioned against complacency, noting that the majority of the Thais' Games squad would likely comprise their overseas-based athletes, who hold dual citizenship and did not feature in the Cup.
Still, he feels that there is strength in depth, with all 19 Singapore outfield players having scored during the tournament in the Philippines.
"My mentality is always (that we should aim for) nothing less than a gold," he added.
"And it's important for me to relay to the boys that you can respect the opponent but not overestimate them, and you shouldn't be overconfident going into the tournament as well.
"I always tell the younger players to find a pre-game ritual that works for them. They are quite a talented bunch and, if they prepare themselves well, we'll be fine."