www.thestar.com.myKUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Sapura have made it a two horse race for the Premier Division title at the halfway mark of the Malaysia Hockey League.
After two weeks of action, KLHC and Sapura are the only two unbeaten teams with the former leading the standings on 12 points from four matches and the latter in second spot with nine points from three matches.
The two teams meet on the final day of the preliminary round on Oct 9 and if both keep up their unbeaten run, the match could very well end up as the title decider.
Double champions KLHC are slowly getting into the stride and scoring big wins but they had a scare on Friday when Maybank gave them a tough fight before losing 2-3.
KLHC edged past Tenaga Nasional 2-1 in their opening match and then went on a rampage by whipping UiTM 7-2 and Yayasan Negri Sembilan 8-0.
KLHC coach R. Vivekanandan said that all they needed to do was to win their matches.
“There are eight matches to play in the Premier Division and we have already won four. So we have to went the next four to clinch the title.
“The players just have to play their normal game. I am sure the other teams will be out to beat us so let them come at us,” he said.
Sapura also had a tough weekend. They had to stage a fightback for their 2-1 win over UniKL on Friday. A defeat would have handed KLHC a clear run to the title.
Sapura coach I. Vicknesweran said they made it difficult for themselves in the match against UniKL.
“We know that there are no easy matches this year. At the top end, teams want to win the title while at the bottom end the teams need the points to make the top-seven cut. So we must collect full points from every match,” he said.
Only the top seven teams in the nine-team Premier Division will make the cut for the knock-out stage.
Currently Armed Forces and UiTM seemed doomed to finish in the last two positions.
The Forces side have not won a single point while UiTM have a point after their opening day draw with UniKL.
This weekend will be crucial for Sapura as they play Nur Insafi and Tenaga Nasional. They have to collect full points to stay in the hunt for the title.
Nur Insafi have won their last two matches and will be motivated to keep up their good run but Sapura should win.
The challenge should come from Tenaga who have a more balance side.
Only the champions from the five-team Division One league will join the seven from the Premier Division for the knock-out stage and the front runner for the berth is SSTMI, the former Bandar Penawar Sports School team.