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Thursday December 22, 2011

Sapura enter MJHL in bid to find replacements for aging stars

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sapura team will, for the first time, venture into the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) starting on Jan 19.

Sapura have been playing in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) since 2000 and they have done very well by winning the league and overall titles twice.

This time, they have decided to field a team in the junior league to act as a feeder squad for their senior team.

Making way: Sapura have an aging squad with the likes of skipper S. Kuhan, who is 35.

“We have been playing in the senior league for the past 11 years and we can’t be relying on the veteran players to do well in the MHL. Besides, it’s also difficult to find good players to replace the veterans when they leave,” said team manager Abdullah Yunus.

Sapura have an aging squad with the likes of 35-year-old goalkeeper Nasihin Nubli, defender S. Kuhan (35), forwards Mahinder Singh (34), Mohd Rodzhanizam Mat Radzi and S. Nishel Kumar, both 33, still in the fray.

Sapura are trying to emulate the Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) club who have teams in the junior and senior leagues.

UniKL, who only made their debut in 2009, did well in the junior league this year by winning the title and finishing as runners-up for the overall title.

Several of their juniors are expected to be drafted into the senior team for this year’s MHL. UniKL finished fifth overall in the nine-team senior league and also reached the quarter-finals in the knockout stage.

Abdullah, who has been with the team since 2000, said I. Vickneswaran, who is coaching the senior team, would also be in charge of the juniors.

“Fourteen players have turned up for the two-day trials and we hope to get a few more before finalising the team next week,” said Abdullah.

“We are not setting any target for the juniors as we are not sure of the strength of the other teams.

“Those who play well will definitely feature in the senior league,” said Abdullah.

The closing date for MJHL entries is Jan 6.

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