KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Kuala Lumpur began their campaign in the National Under-21 hockey tournament with a 4-1 win over Johor at the National Hockey Stadium here yesterday.
The five-time champions had full control of the Group A match and shot into the lead through World Cupper Azlan Misron in the 11th minute. KL were two-up in the 34th minute with a strike by another World Cupper Tajol Rosli.
KL kept up their domination and earned a penalty stroke in the 39th minute, which national junior Jivan Mohan converted.
Tajol scored his second goal of the match in the 46th minute before Amir Hamzah pulled a goal back for Johor with a penalty stroke conversion.
In Group B, Australia’s New South Wales Institute of Sports (NSWIS), who are making their debut in the tournament, appeared to be bothered by the heat but they managed to chalk up a 2-1 win over Pahang.
Eli Matherson put the Aussies in front after 12 minutes and Alex Hardman followed up with a field goal in the 23rd minute.
Pahang, whose side comprise the bulk of players from the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) champions Telekom Pahang, only came alive in the second half but they had only one goal to show from Ismail Abu in the 60th minute.
NSWIS coach Larry McIntosh hoped that his team would adapt better to the weather conditions as the tournament progresses.
“We will take one match at a time and I think we can do better. We gave the Pahang team too much room in the second half and that allowed them to come back at us,” he said.
Perlis scored a major upset, beating former champions Selangor 1-0 in a Group B match, which was played in the morning.
Perlis, who had been absent from the tournament for 10 years, scored the winner two minutes from time. Their hero was national Under-19 forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, who capitalised on a weak clearance by the Selangor defence.
But the star for Perlis was former Selangor goalkeeper Faizal Aziz Ibrahim, who is now studying at the Mara Technology College in Arau.
Faizal, who was a member of the Olak team who won the double in the MJHL in 1999, almost single-handedly kept Selangor at bay with his numerous saves.
Said Selangor coach I. Vicknesweran: “We paid the price for not converting our chances in a match that we dominated. But Perlis made one count. It turned out that a Selangor player helped them score this win.
“We have to bounce back from this defeat to stay in contention. We’ve a tough match against New South Wales but it will be a good experience for the players.”
In the other morning match, Malacca had little trouble beating Kelantan 3-0 in Group A with goals by Nor Ikram Sulaiman (5th), Nor Hamezi Omar (7th) and Ahmad Annuar (37th).
Also in Group A, Singapore made a winning return to the competition after a seven-year lapse, beating Armed Forces 2-0. A goal in each half by Mohamed Ishak Ismail and Herman Mansor in the 32nd and 51st minutes respectively gave the Lions maximum points.
In Group B, Negri Sembilan also started off on a winning note, beating Penang 3-1.
The scorers for Negri were Faharul Nazrey Harun (47th) and G. Vijayan (50th and 59th).
Ahmad Hasbi scored Penang’s consolation goal in the 61st minute.