KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Telekom Pahang may be sitting pretty at the top of the Division One table after three weeks of action in the MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League.
But they know that the title race is only just heating up.
On Saturday, Telekom defeated Malaysia Sports School 1-0 to head Division One with maximum points from three outings.
A win for Sports School would have put them in the driver's seat. Instead, they occupy fifth spot with six points from three matches, three fewer than Telekom.
Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) and Anderson-XYBase are in second and third spots respectively with nine points as well but both have played a game more than Telekom. Tenaga Nasional are in fourth spot with six points, the same as Sports School but with a better goal difference.
Judging from the performances of these teams, it seems that only Tenaga Nasional have the best chance of stopping Telekom Pahang, as the other teams do not really have the firepower to beat the leaders.
Telekom certainly look powerful as not only are they the only unbeaten team in Division One, but they have yet to concede a goal thus far.
Telekom also have ample motivation this time. Having won the overall title on their debut last year, they now aim to go one better by bagging the double.
Still, Telekom coach Izwan Suhardy is not taking anything for granted yet and has warned his boys that the race would get tougher as the other teams would be seeking their scalp.
“The win over Sports School has made our task a little easier. But I do not think the title race is a foregone conclusion. It is still a very open battle and Tenaga are one of the teams who have a good chance of winning it. I want the players to stay focused and not get carried away with the 1-0 win over the Sports School,” he said.
Tenaga Nasional, rated by many as the biggest threat to Telekom, kept pace with the leaders over the weekend by winning their second straight game – defeating Yayasan Negri Sembilan 2-0 in Seremban.
The surprise team of the weekend must be second-placed MPPJ, who will find out this weekend if they have what it takes to be among the top teams in Division One as they will face Telekom and then the Malaysia Sports School.
In Division Two, a four-cornered fight is also shaping up with MSS Perlis and SM Datuk Taha chasing the Sports School Juniors and Malacca MC for the title.
The Sports School Juniors won their fifth straight match and lead the table with 15 points. The Malacca side are in second place with 12 points, with a match in hand.
Malacca MC have been the most impressive with their big wins. They hammered Malay Mail 14-1 on Sunday and have, to date, scored 33 goals in four matches.
Malacca MC's credentials as title contenders will be put into perspective this weekend when they play SM Datuk Taha on Friday, followed by MSS Perlis on Sunday.
If they can get past these two teams, then Malacca MC can start dreaming of the Division Two title, as only the Sports School Juniors are the only real threat left.