KUALA LUMPUR (8th September, 2016): Sapura Hockey Club coach Yahya Atan wants his players to focus when they face Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) in the TNBMHL Premier League match at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium on Friday.
What raises the stakes further is the fact that league leaders Sapura have only dropped points once, in their 5-2 loss against KLHC in the first round encounter.
Since then, both teams have grown from strength to strength, especially with the arrival of their full list of foreign players and are now separated by just one point from second-placed KLHC with four matches to go.
Predicting a tough encounter, Yahya wants his players to show hunger and take their chances well if they harbor to lift the title.
“We must take our chances and make them count. We also need to limit the number of penalty corners we give them because they have good drag flickers in their side. The battle in midfield will be decisive and we must try our best to be in control,” said Yahya.
Not one to count his eggs before they are hatched, Yahya admitted that their title credentials will “improve tremendously” should they walk away with three points.
KLHC, on the opposite end, will play Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) on Saturday and positive results will help drive their title push but coach Muhd Harun Al-Rahid Samri is not approaching this match any differently.
“All matches for us thus far have been a must win. Both Sapura and THT are strong teams with depth, experience and stability. Both are highly-rated and as I’ve said during pre-season, they are actually much stronger than us on paper. So expect us to give our best.
“At this point I have some injury concerns as Nam (Hyunwoo) has a back strain while Rashid (Baharom) has a hamstring injury and I will have to asses them,” said Harun.
He also pointed out that the results in the reverse fixture counts more for Sapura as they now have the services of New Zealander Phillip Ross Burrows and Australian Oscar William Wookey.
“The first fixture is just a statistics. Sapura have boosted their squad and the presence of these two players really make a difference.
“Sapura are on top and they are there for a reason, we need to beat them and THT to stand a chance of winning the league. It is a vital weekend for us and we need to come out on top,” added Muhd Harun.
In other matches, third placed THT will take on Maybank on Friday looking for a win and will be keeping their fingers crossed that the battle between Sapura and KLHC will result in a draw. Should THT upset KLHC on Saturday, they will then move into second spot.
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) face off against Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) on Friday and Maybank on Saturday looking to register their first wins of the season.
Fixtures – Premier League, Friday (9 Sept, 2016): Sapura Hockey Club v KL Hockey Club (Tun Razak Stadium, 6pm); Maybank v Terengganu Hockey Team (Bukit Serindit Hockey Stadium, 6pm); Tenaga Nasional Berhad v Universiti Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, 8pm).
Saturday: Universiti Kuala Lumpur v Sapura Hockey Club (Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium, 6pm); Maybank v Tenaga Nasional Berhad (Bukit Serindit Hockey Stadium, 6pm); KL Hockey Club v Terengganu Hockey Team (Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, 8pm).