Friday September 21, 2012
KLHC must beat Maybank to stay in title race
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) have been given a lucky break in their attempt to retain their Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) title, thanks to Maybank’s 1-1 draw with Tenaga Nasional last weekend.
Today, KLHC must beat Maybank to keep their title bid alive.
The Premier Division of the MHL turned topsy turvy last weekend when KLHC lost their position at the top of the standings to Tenaga Nasional to turn the title race into a three-way fight.
Tenaga lead the standings with 14 points, with KLHC a point behind. Sapura, with 10 points, are also in the mix while Maybank are fourth.
KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj said that beating Maybank is all that matters for now.
“We have been given a second chance to retain our title. We just have to win the final four matches. It would have been different had Tenaga won their match against Maybank.
“So for me, it is a simple win that matters. Maybank have a much better team this year and the foreign players give them more depth,” said Dharmaraj.
Dharmaraj said his team are in an unfamiliar position for the first time.
“We are used to winning but now we have gone two matches without a win. The players must respond by winning the next match. There are no two ways about it. Of course, we want to make some changes to the line-up.”
Dharmaraj added that their poor run could be blamed on their predictable style of play.
“Last year we played differently in each game and planned accordingly. This year we have gone on the attack from the start and our defenders move up more to apply pressure on the opponents.
“The strategy worked in the first four matches where we won by high margins. But then we lost to Tenaga and drew with Sapura. Those two matches may have hurt our title hopes.”
Maybank will be banking on their Pakistani trio of Mohamed Irfan, penalty corner flick specialist Shakeel Abassi and Mohamed Waqas.
Tenaga and Sapura are also eyeing wins this weekend. Tenaga play Nur Insafi-Perak in Ipoh while Sapura face Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
Nur Insafi and Unikl are at the bottom of the pile and their semi-final chances look slim. Still, with four matches to go, they can turn their season around.
When the dust settles on Sunday, two things can be ascertained. The likely title contenders and the semi-finalists. As Dharmaraj puts it: “This is a weekend that no team wants to lose. It is a win-or-bust situation.”