KUALA LUMPUR: Johor boys held defending champions Perak to a goalless draw in Group A, to indicate that they are a team to be reckoned with in the National Under-16 tournament.
Playing at the National Hockey Stadium, Johor soaked in all the pressure from Perak and relied on counter-attacks but failed at the last attempt.
The draw saw Perak top Group A on 10 points, while Johor have seven points with a match against Perlis in hand.
Both the teams, as well as Pahang and Kuala Lumpur from Group C have qualified for the medal rounds.
Penang and Malacca look like the best bets to qualify from Group B.
A fresh draw will be conducted today (Wednesday) for a new grouping with three each in two groups. These six teams will be playing for honours.
"Johor is basically made up with boys from Datuk Bentara Luar (School) in Batu Pahat and we have been training for the past two months for this tournament.
"Last year we ended sixth, and now we are looking at a medal performance," said Johor coach Nor Affazly Abdul Gaffar.
And after the Under-16, the boys will compete in Division One of the Junior Hockey League (JHL) with funding and coaching expertise from Universti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
RESULTS: Boys Group A: Johor 0 Perak 0, Perlis 1 Sarawak 0; Group B: Selangor 3 Terengganu 1.
Girls Group A: Perlis 0 Kuala Lumpur 4; Group C: Johor 2 Selangor 1, Perak 1 Terengganu 2.
WEDNESDAY: Boys -- Group A: Johor v Perlis (5pm, Pitch I), Negri Sembilan v Sarawak (6.30pm, Pitch I); Group B: Selangor v Penang (5pm, Pitch II).
Girls Group B: Penang v Sabah (7.30am, Pitch I), Sarawak v Malacca (8.45am, Pitch II).