By Noah TanFollow @@Noah_Tan
The Rams struggled in 2013, picking up only 14 points from 24 games to finish bottom of the table for the third consecutive year.
However, a slew of new signings have them fresh hope of progressing up the table, with coach Salim Moin having even set his side the target of finishing in the top three.
Ex-Netherlands international Hamdaoui, one of the newest additions to Woodlands, agreed with his boss' ambitions for the club and declared that the Rams would prove to be the surprise package this season.
Speaking exclusively to FOX Sports, the 31-year-old playmaker said: "I hope we can surprise everyone this year and finish in the top dix.
"The coach said we'd be going for a top-three finish, and all things going well, we'll even manage to achieve that.
"The challenge is there; maybe it's a bit strange to say this, but we cannot do worse than last year."
The former Dundee player also revealed that the Rams were intending to adopt a quick, pass-and-move playing style for the upcoming season and pinpointed that as one of the reasons for his decision to move to the club.
"One of the most important reasons why I joined Woodlands was because after having spoken to the coach [Salim] and assistant coach [Clement Teo], I believe they want to play football the way it should be played," Hamdaoui mused.
"Ask any playmaker in the world what they want and they tell you they want to play good football. I played one season in Scotland and I didn't enjoy it, because Great Britain's style of football is 'kick and rush', so for me as a playmaker, I was hopeless there.
"But then I come here and the coach wants to play good football and I get the chance to shine.
"The training process follows the European style and focuses on one-touch, two-touch passing. A defender is not just a traditional defender; here a defender can attack. The philosophy follows that of 'Total Football'."
Hamdaoui also praised the close-knit bond the players in the club had developed and expressed his delight at having settled in well with his new teammates.
"Another reason why I joined Woodlands was because of the superb atmosphere within the group," he added.
"I've settled into the team very well. The vibe in the group is good.
"Most of the players are new, so there are no pre-formed cliques because everybody wants to know each other so I don't feel like a an outsider.
"It's like one big family; there's always a smile, we're always joking, and this make it a joy for me to play football.
"That for me is the most important factor, especially after having stopped playing for two years."
The versatile midfielder has played in a variety of positions throughout his illustrious career which included stints with Dutch outfit NAC Breda and Japanese giants Tokyo Verdy, but considers his best position to be that of a playmaker.
And the Ajax academy graduate, who won the 2009 Moroccan league [Botola Pro] with Moroccan powerhouse Raja Casablanca, is optimistic that he will be given the opportunity to prove his worth.
"It depends on the coach, the team and the system," Hamdaoui explained, when asked whether he would be deployed in his favoured role for the Rams.
"Going back to Scotland, I played two games as a left-back, and in my last professional contract, I played as a 'libero' [the role just in front of the defenders], but my favourite position is definitely as a playmaker.
"In the last game we played against Balestier Khalsa [a 3-0 win], I was a problem for them because I played between the links, between the midfield and defenders, that's good because they need to guess as a player where to stand.
"Thankfully, I think the coach is giving me the freedom to play as a playmaker."
One of the Woodlands' key players is South Korean striker Moon Soon-Ho, who finished as the club's top scorer with eight goals last season, and Hamdaoui believes he can form a deadly partnership with the former Super Reds player to fire their side up the table.
"For me, I like to give the ball in between the defenders, and I'm always looking for the space between the defenders," he reflected.
"So thankfully we have a very fast striker who likes to go behind the defenders. Moon is a good target to find every time.
"My first game with him against Warriors FC in a friendly game was good because I put him through on goal four to five times, and I have developed a good understanding with Moon over the past three months.
"We also have Fadhil Noh on the left who can play as a second striker. But he's a different player because he prefers to receive the ball at feet."
Woodlands have had mixed fortunes during their pre-season friendlies, doing well to beat the likes of Home United [1-0] and Balestier Khalsa [3-0], yet losing to Tampines Rovers [0-2] and SCC Cosmo [0-3], but one of their worst defeats came in the form of a 5-1 loss to Darul Takzim.
Hamdaoui however insisted that the result was a one-off due to the lack of understanding his side had at that time, although he admitted that the experience was beneficial to the team.
"The Johor [Darul Takzim] game was great, although I didn't know much about the team or their star player Dani Guiza before the game," he reflected. "It was a good experience for sure.
"The Johor team were okay. I think they won by our mistakes. They might have won 5-1, although to me, only two of the goals were nice goals, while the other two were borne out of our own mistakes.
"But that was understandable - it was the first time we played as a group. We had two defenders who had never played with each other before and I didn't know half of the team by name at that time.
"I'm not looking for excuses, but we just trained for a week, there were a lot of young players, and it was an incomplete team, unlike now.
"Johor have a new squad with lots of internationals and it was a overall a good practice going up against some of the players who played for Malaysia in the [2012 AFF] Suzuki Cup. But I think if we play against them now, it'll be a different story."
He also played down any suggestions that he would be affected by the pressure to perform having joined the club with a distinguished playing background.
"I think pressure is part and parcel of life, but so far I don't feel any pressure," Hamdaoui revealed.
"When I was playing for Casablanca Raja, one of the biggest clubs in Africa, I had to play in front of a crowd of 70,000, and the crowds swelled up to over 100,000 during derbies.
"The pressure was there, and I think if you can handle that, you can handle anything.
"So far, we've played in Johor in front of around 25,000 fans; some team-mates felt the pressure, but for me when you play in front of a crowd like that, you become a better player than when you play in front of five people.
"Furthermore, I'd like to think I'm a crowd-pleaser. So for example, even if we're losing by four or five goals, I'd still want to do something to entertain the crowd."
Hamdaoui will get his first opportunity to showcase his talent when he makes his competitive debut for the Rams in Thursday's campaign opener against Warriors FC at the Woodlands Stadium.