MALACCA: Malacca Municipal Council (MMC), the overall title winners in 200l, are making a comeback to the Junior Hockey League after skipping last year's series. And they are serious about getting back into the top flight by winning the Division Two title this time.
To that end, chief coach Eugene Lee, who is back at the MMC helm together with Rahim Omar, has roped in six former Ipoh Anderson School stalwarts.
Two key former Andersonians drafted in were goalkeeper Narul Aim and playmaker Faizal Ani who played a leading role in helping Anderson School lift the recent Champions School title for a record eighth time in Klang.
The other notable Andersonians include defender Hanif Hamzaah as well as forwards Nazrin Naserrudin and Mohamad Nor Othman.
Eugene, who handled Tenaga Nasional last season, is supremely confident of landing the Division 2 title and the RM5,000 cash prize that comes with it but the knockout quarter-final, he admits, will be tough. The draw pits the top finishers of Divisions One against the Division Two winners at that stage.
“We objected to this pre-planned quarter-final draw but that's another story,” said Eugene yesterday. “For the moment, we are focussed on capturing the Division 2 honours and we have the material to do that.”
“We may have started centralised training only recently as players were involved in the National Under 2l tournament. We are now having workouts and friendly matches to get in shape. We are also working on our set-pieces and overall team cohesion. Everything is progressing well.”
Eugene also singled out Sports School Juniors, who represent Bukit Jalil Sports School second liners, and Johor Sports Council, as the sides to watch out for.
“But MMC are full of fighting spirit and determination. We have already proven our worth in several friendly matches against local club sides,” added a smiling Eugene.
MMC manager Rafie Mamat who disclosed that some RMl00,00 is being spent for the team's build-up, perks and incentives, is also confident of winning honours and gaining promotion.
Besides the former Andersonians, the team comprise mainly players from Malacca High School, which was thinking about fielding a side in the JHL, but decided against it at the last minute.
“So we have the best of the local talent as well as the experience and depth of the former Andersonians,” said Eugene.