www.thestar.com.myKUALA LUMPUR: Nur Insafi face a daunting task in their bid to notch their third win on the trot in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) today.
The Penang outfit, who beat Armed Forces 2-1 and UiTM 4-3 last week, will be up against second-placed Sapura today.
Nur Insafi are hoping to finish in the top seven in the nine-team Premier Division and qualify for the knockout stage.
Of course, they are hoping to finish higher because a seventh placing would mean taking on the second-placed team in the quarter-finals.
“Based on the points we have accumulated, seventh place is within our reach. But that is not good enough. It will be tough this weekend and we need to try and collect at least a point from one of the two matches,” said Nur Insafi team manager S. Tatchana Murty.
After playing Sapura today, Nur Insafi will face UniKL on Sunday.
Tatchana said that Sapura would be handful “as they are fighting for the title”.
“They have a lot more at stake. So, the pressure will be on them. Unfortunately, we are also weakened due to injuries to several key players,” he said.
“I have no choice but to field some of them even though they are not fully recovered.”
Those injured are Kashif Ali, Mohd Asim Khan, Mohd Imran and penalty corner flicker Nur Hrsikesa.
Tatchana said they were just aiming for a point from this weekend’s fixtures as “that will keep us in the fight for a better position”.
Nur Insafi’s final two matches next weekend will be against double champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Maybank.
The manager also lamented about their poor penalty corner conversion rate.
“Our penalty corner executions have been poor, especially the pushing and stopping. Anyway, our flicker was also injured and not at his best.
“But we have been spending some time to get our set piece moves right,” he said.
Meanwhile, double champions and current leaders KLHC will be able to consolidate their position at the top of the standings when they play lowly Armed Forces today.
KLHC have 12 points so far – three ahead of nearest rivals Sapura, who have a game in hand.
But, with Armed Forces having leaked in 10 goals in three outings, the champions should be able to pile up the goals and heap more pressure on their rivals.
Sapura, who face Nur Insafi today and UiTM on Sunday, can’t afford to drop any points at this stage. Otherwise, KLHC will have a clear run to the title.
In the other ties today, Maybank will face UniKL while Tenaga Nasional will take on UiTM.
These teams will be battling to get as many points as possible to stay in the top seven.
It will be an interesting weekend indeed for most teams.