www.thestar.com.myKUALA LUMPUR: Sapura’s bid to keep pace with leaders Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) suffered a jolt following injuries to three key players.
The trio – defender Reduan Ponirin and midfielders Robert Alcantra and Mohd Izzat Mohd Rahim – are doubtful starters for Sapura’s match against Nur Insafi at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow.
“Reduan is still recovering from a groin injury while Robert slipped and injured his thigh. National trainee Izzat is down with a hamstring injury,” said coach I. Vickneswaran.
“All three will undergo a medical test on Friday to know whether they will be fit to play against Nur Insafi.”
Double champions KLHC lead the nine-team league standings with 12 points while Sapura are three points behind.
To make matters worse, Sapura had suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to Nur Insafi in the first round match last season.
Vickneswaran is fully aware that his team will have to collect full points against Nur Insafi if they are to stay on track for the league title.
“It’s easier said than done. But with three players injured, and last year loss to Nur Insafi still fresh in our system, the pressure will be on us to get the better of them,” he said.
“Nur Insafi have six foreign players and are a strong team. They will definitely go all out to beat us like last year.
“We will play a cautious game and capitalise on our chances.”
Vickeswaran also said that he is unhappy with his team’s penalty corner conversion rate.
“We had a number of penalty corners but only scored from a few set pieces. This is one area we need to work on,” he said.
Sapura’s penalty corner flickers are former national skipper S. Kuhan, Jiwa Mohan and national player Azreen Rizal Nasir.
Sapura have two matches this week. On Sunday, they will take on debutants UiTM, who have just one point from three matches.
But Vickneswaran said they would not take any team for granted.
“We respect all the teams ... we will take every match seriously,” he said.