KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club played in patches yesterday, but still managed to edge Sapura 1-0 to lift the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division League title at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
KLHC still have one match in hand against Tenaga next weekend, but it makes no difference even if they lose, as Tenaga will still be short of one point.
Sapura players, who have been struggling to find their form, frustrated KLHC by holding onto the ball for long periods, and former national skipper S. Kuhan slowed down the match to a snail’s pace.
Sapura were expected to crumble meekly as they were without two national players. Jiwa Mohan tied the knot in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, and his brother Jivan was also excused from the match.
And it was still 0-0 with six minutes remaining, when KLHC finally found the elusive goal.
Defender Razie Rahim’s penalty corner flick, a direct attempt, finally landed them the League title in an otherwise poor match.
KLHC coach R. Vivekanandan describes the first half as a disaster, and saluted Sapura for giving them a good fight.
“It was a disastrous 35 minutes which we were lucky to survive because my team lost their structure.
“However, after the half-time briefing, the team were back in action and we nailed the League title with one match in hand,” said Vivekanandan.
“I salute Sapura because they gave us a good fight even though they played without Jiwa and Jivan.”
So what next: “We will strive to maintain our unbeaten record when we play our last League match against Tenaga in Malacca. And after that, I will plan to lift the overall title in the knock-out stages,” said Vivekanandan.
KLHC’s only blemish was a 1-1 draw with Maybank.
“Maybank woke up my players at the right time, and made them hungry for the League title. Now, I believe they will not disappoint in the quarter-finals.”
The six Premier Division teams will be joined by Division One champions UiTm and runners-up Armed Forces in the quarter-finals.
RESULTS: Nur Insafi 2 UniKL-Ibil 1, Sapura 0 KL Hockey Club 1, Tenaga Nasional x Maybank x.
All matches at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
P W D L F A Pts
KLHC 9 8 1 0 31 9 25
TENAGA 8 6 0 2 21 8 18
MAYBANK 8 4 3 1 16 9 15
SAPURA 9 3 2 4 16 13 11
NUR INSAFI 9 1 1 7 10 33 4
UNIKL 9 0 1 8 5 26 1