Friday, 21 March 2014 | MYT 6:13 PM
KL face huge obstacles to regain Under-16 crown
KUALA LUMPUR: Former champions Kuala Lumpur will be hard-pressed to regain the MHC-Milo Under-16 hockey crown when the tournament gets under way in Kangar, Perlis, on Saturday.
KL have won the title five times from 2008-2012, but ended up third last year.
The city side’s aim this time is to reach the final.
They are in Group B with last year’s runners-up Malacca, Terengganu, Penang, Kelantan, Sabah and Johor. Defending champions Perak are in Group A with Kedah, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Perlis.
KL coach K. Embaraj admitted that they are in a tough group.
“We don’t have any big names in our side although quite a number of them have been exposed in the KLHA League. We also tried out a few of the players in the recent Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) with the KLSS-KLHC team. So I feel we have some players with experience on our side.
“Regaining the title is our main objective. But with some tough teams in the group, our priority is to make the semi-finals first and take it from there,” said Embaraj.
Perak will start as one of the title favourites. The other serious contenders are Malacca, Selangor, Terengganu, Kelantan and Penang.
“In age-group tournaments, the chances of winning the title are quite even. It is how you perform on match day. It will be an even contest right from the start. We will know after a few matches who the real contenders are,” added Embaraj, who is handling the KL team for the second straight year.
In the girl’s competition, the participating teams are Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.
This is the first time Perlis is hosting a national hockey tournament and it is seen as a test run ahead of Sukma (Malaysia Games) which Perlis will host from May 27-June 4.
Group A: Kedah vs Pahang (7am), Perak vs Perlis (8.45am), Selangor vs Negri Sembilan (10.30am).
Group B: KL vs Johor (2.15pm), Terengganu vs Sabah (3.45pm), Penang vs Kelantan (5.15pm)
Group A: Kedah vs Terengganu (3.15pm), Johor vs Pahang (5pm).
Group B: KL vs Kelantan (7.30am), Perlis vs Negri Sembilan (9am).