KUALA LUMPUR: Last year's finalist Malaysia Sports School began their MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League campaign in style yesterday, sending two-time league champions Tenaga Nasional crashing to a 2-1 defeat at the KL Hockey Stadium in Jalan Pantai here.
Victory was sweet for the Sports School. Tenaga Nasional, who won the league title in 2000 and 2001 and were group champions last year had assembled a more experienced team with at least seven former Sports School players in their ranks.
But all it took was one player - Perlis-born Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin - to bring the giants down.
He struck twice in the first half to lead his team to victory.
Tenaga went into yesterday's match with several national under-19 players in their line-up. They are Azli Misron, Abbas Nekmat, Mohamed Fairus Hamsani, S. Selvaraj, Kelvinder Singh and Ezreen Abdul Aziz.
But the Sports School had better control of the game and were able to have numbers both in defence and forward.
Although it was Ahmad Tajuddin who scored both the MSS goals, the moves were initiated by Mohaed Fauzi Abdul Rahim.
The first goal came in the 24th minute when Fauzi ran past three defenders and relayed a pass to Ahmad Tajuddin in the D. The latter had the simple task of placing the ball outside the reach of onrushing goalkeeper Mohamed Fitri Abdul Aziz.
The Tenaga side tried hard to keep the ball forward and six minutes later they managed to draw level with a penalty corner rebound goal by Abbas Nekmat.
But just as the first half was about to end, the MSS team earned a penalty corner and Ahmad Tajuddin deflected Fauzi’s attempt at goal into the net.
The second half saw both sides having chances at goal but neither could get the finishing touch.
It was the third time in a row that the Sports School had got the better of Tenaga. At the semi-finals stage last year, they won the first leg 1-0 and the return leg 2-0 to make it into the final.
A delighted MSS team manager Suhaimi Sun Abdullah said his players followed instructions and were able to counter the Tenaga strategy.
“It is a good start for us and the players manage to do what we had set out to do. This was important as the Tenaga team had some very talented players and were in high spirits. But I think we can only get better now with each match and I'm confident that the team will continue to show improvement in the coming matches,'' he said.
At the Pandamaran Hockey Stadium in Klang yesterday, the Klang MC-Olak team came off with a narrow 1-0 win over Anderson-XYBase with B. Namasivayam scoring a field goal in the 49th minute.
Anderson, the eight times MHF Champions School winners, could not break through the Olak defence and had to suffer an early setback in their attempt to do well in the junior league.
Olak will see action again today as they travel up north to face Penang's Srii Aroma-PISC at the Bertam Hockey complex.
At the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, meanwhile, Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) started off on a winning note. They thumped Johor Sports Council 5-1.
Mohamed Azreen and Zaril Mohamed Zafri scored a brace for the PJ side while Mohamed Rohizan contibuted the other goal in the big win. The JSC made up of the Bandar Penawar players scored their consolation goal through Mohamed Norrashid.
In the east, Terengganu School Sports Council (MSST) drew 1-1 with Yayasan Negri Sembilan. The Terengganu side took the lead in the 30th minute through Saiful Amri Idris while the YNS side manage to secure a point with a Zaharuddin Janhari equaliser in the 41st minute.