TWENTY SEVEN teams confirmed their entries for the Junior Hockey League (JHL) which will be held on Feb 24-May 5.
However, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Competitions Committee manager Bryan Fernandez said even though the deadline was Friday, they will still accept more entries until Monday.
"Yes, entries closed on Friday but we are giving more time for two more teams to get their registration in order. Last season the JHL saw 30 teams in action," said Bryan.
Ten teams will play in Division One, while 17 in two groups in Division Two.
Last season, 10 teams were in Division One while 20 teams were placed in three groups in Division Two.
"We extended the deadline because some teams could not give us a concrete answer due to financial and other reasons. We will know for sure on Monday and decide on the grouping and format once the number is confirmed and a discussion held with our chairman George Koshy," said Bryan.
KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) coach Lim Chiow Chuan was fuming mad with the umpire after his side lost 2-1 to Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) on Friday.
The defeat saw KLHC hand over their Legue title to THT, after a successful season where Chiow Chuan guided his side to the Charity Shield and the Alagendra Cup.
"We failed to hold on to our title because of poor umpiring, something which could have been easily overcome if there was video umpiring for referrals.
"Teams spend mega bucks by signing top players in the country as well as from overseas, but our hopes are blown away by poor umpiring.
"I suggest the organisers (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) invest in video umpiring to be fair to teams which invest a lot in the MHL," said a red-faced Chiow Chuan.
Chiow Chuan's men were leading THT 1-0 and a win would have assured them the League title, while THT only needed a draw to snatch the crown.
And with seven minutes remaining in the match, KLHC were heading towards the title when 'the umpire made a mistake'.
KLHC's Jang Jonghyun was entrusted with the free hit ball, but he was accused of delaying tactics by the umpire, who blew against the Korean.
THT immediately took the opportunity to attack and Faizal Shaari equalised. And THT made sure the title was theirs when Argentinian Lopez Barreiros scored the second.
"That was the turning point in our game. We had the title in our hands, but poor umpiring denied us glory. Many teams have invested heavily in the MHL, and I feel there must be video umpiring to make sure the right decisions are made in crucial matches," said Chiow Chuan.
MALAYSIA Hockey League (MHL) League champions Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) will square off against 'dreaded' opponent Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) in the two-leg TNB Cup semifinals starting Sunday.
In the League, UniKL held THT 2-2 and then 1-1 -- in the home and away encounters.
The other semifinals will be between Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Tenaga Nasional. This encounter is just as unpredictable as in the League, Tenaga upset KLHC 4-2 and then were whitewashed 4-0 in the return leg.
UniKL are hoping for a third draw in the first leg semifinals, to keep their hopes alive of playing in the TNB Cup final.
“We will adapt the approach tactically as we did in our two league matches, which is to push them hard and put them under constant pressure," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.
Arul's main concern is injuries as well as fatigue, as the second leg will be played on Wednesday.
As it stands, import players goalkeeper David Harte (hamstring) and Kieren Govers sat out their final League match against TNB.
THT coach Sarjit Singh is optimistic that his team is ready for another title.
"I told my players before Friday (when they beat KLHC to the League title), that we must never end without a title this season and they delivered.
"And the League title should be the tonic needed by my players to win both the semifinals and have a shot at winning their second title," said Sarjit.
In the other semis, KLHC and Tenaga are expected to play it safe on Sunday.
“The semis are a different ball game altogether. Stakes are higher and teams will step up their game. As such, chances are equal for all teams,” said KLHC coach Lim Chiow Chuan.
“We can't say that we have better chances based on history. The 4-0 victory four days ago does not suggest our superiority because the match was a close affair even though the scoreline indicated otherwise.”
Although KLHC lost the league title, Chiow Chuan feels his players are mentally strong to overcome the setback.
SUNDAY -- TNB CUP FIRST LEG SEMIFINALS: Terengganu Hockey Team v Universiti Kuala Lumpur (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium Pitch II, 8.30pm).
WEDNESDAY: TNB CUP SECOND LEG SEMIFINALS: Tenaga Nasional v Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Universiti Kuala Lumpur v Terengganu Hockey Team (National Stadium Pitch II, 8.30pm).
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Coach Sarjit Singh annd his charges celebrate their MHL League title on Friday.
NATIONAL player Faizal Shaari made sure Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) lift the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) League title with a goal and an assist against Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) yesterday.
THT's late charge saw them win 2-1, and top the standings unbeaten on 24 points. KLHC finished second on 20 points.
KLHC went into the match as the Charity Shield and Alagendra Cup champions, but THT stopped them at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium yesterday.
THT only needed a draw for the League title, but Nabil Fiqri gave KLHC the lead in the 38th minute and it looked like they were ready to lift their third title.
But a stroke of luck, when South Korean import Jang Jonghyun was penalised for delaying tactics, saw Faizal Shaari equalising for THT in the 50th minute.
And three minutes later, Faizal beat two players with a darting run to pass the ball to Argentinian Lopez Barreiros -- who made sure with a deft tap to beat goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin.
"I am not one to brag, but we have yet to lose a match in the MHL (seven wins and three draws) and did not intend to give away a third title to KLHC.
"And looking forward, we will play to win the TNB Cup as well," said Faizal.
THT coach Sarjit Singh was happy that they managed to snatch the League title, even though his charges missed many goal chances.
"We should have won the match easily, buy a rare mistake by my defenders gave KLHC the lead and we had to chase back. Credit to the players as they gave their best to claw back into the match and did not allow KLHC to walk away with a third title," said Sarjit.
KLHC coach Lim Chiow Chuan took out his goalkeeper six minutes from the end, but failed to get back into the game.
"We were penalised for time wasting (by Jang) and Faizal scored the equaliser. It changed the entire game. But looking forward, we still have another title to play for and that's my focus right now," said Chiow Chuan.
RESULTS: Premier Division -- Tenaga 3 UniKL 2, Maybank 2 Thunderbolts 0, KLHC 1 THT 2.
Sports Journalist with the New Straits Times since 1994.
My main beat is field hockey, so this blog will have stories that I have written for the NST, as well as hockey news from around the globe. There will be regular updates. I was also the Secretary General of the National Press Club, Malaysia for three terms (six years).