KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor have yet to make the final of the Sukma hockey event, but are confident they have what it takes to win the title this time in Perlis from May 24-June 4.
Selangor ended their 21-year wait for the National Under-21 title when they defeated Perak in last year’s final. The final ended 3-3 but Selangor prevailed in the penalty shootout to lift the title after a 5-4 win.
“We are confident of doing well in Sukma as we have been preparing the team since 2012,” said Selangor manager Zainal Abidin.
Selangor had the second youngest team after Sabah in the National Under-21 tournament last year with an average age of 17. They have also exposed their players in the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) over the last two years. They also competed in the MHL Division One this year.
“We’ve never won the Sukma hockey gold. And we’ve never gotten past the quarter-final stage. But the team have shown over the last one year that they have what it takes to be champions.
“Winning the National Under-21 title was a major boost for the players and all of them are available for the Sukma challenge. This time we have a team with experience and ability to match the best,” said Zainal.
Besides the National Under-21 crown, Selangor also won the Under-16 indoor titles for the last two years. They also lifted the MHC Under-16 title in Kangar in March.
Selangor Hockey Association (SHA) secretary P. Kuganeson said they were able to win the National Under-21 and Under-16 titles despite not having a proper artificial turf to train on.
“Selangor used to be a top hockey playing state. But in recent years, we were reduced to also-rans. Things are picking up now as we have a proper development programme in place. They are all heading in the right direction as can be seen with the titles that are coming our way. And we are determined to win the Sukma title this year,” added Kuganeson.
A total of 13 teams will compete in the men’s event in Perlis.
Selangor are in Group B with 2012 runners-up Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Sarawak and Kelantan. Group A consists of defending champions Terengganu, Johor, Perlis, Perak and Sabah. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals.
The women’s event will also have 13 teams. Title-holders Terengganu are in Group A with Johor, Sarawak, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Sabah. The teams in Group B are KL, Selangor, Perlis, Perak, Penang, Malacca and Kedah.