It's make-or-break for MPPJ


BY S. RAMAGURU

KUALA LUMPUR: It is a make-or-break weekend for Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) in the MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League. 

The former 2001 overall runner-up face Tenaga Nasional and Malaysia Sports School on successive days. Victories against these two teams will put them in line for a top two finish. Otherwise, they will have to forget about the Division One title and concentrate on making it into the quarter-finals instead. 

MPPJ coach Roslan Salikon said yesterday that their Division One title chances hinged on this weekend's matches. 

“It is not just us who will be looking at these matches to make a bid for the title. Tenaga and Malaysia Sports School also need to beat us to stay in the hunt. Thus, we expect a tough time on both days. We have had a good run thus far winning three matches out of four. The only loss was to Anderson-XYBase. We did not play well in that match and paid the price. 

“I think we are over that game and we will be ready for the battle this weekend,'' said Roslan who is into his fourth season with the team. 

FOILED: MPPJ forward Khairul Nizam Din flies over Yayasan Negri Sembilan's goalkeeper Shawn Suresh Dass and defender Mohd Rais Shah during their Junior Hockey League match on Feb 16. It will be a tough weekend for MPPJ as they play Teanga and Malaysian Sports School on successive days.

“Our target this year is to go all the way but first we want to ensure that we make it into the quarter-finals. We are in a good position to do so but we cannot afford to falter against lower-ranked teams.” 

Roslan said they had basically the same team as last year but the inclusion of two Serdang HC players – skipper Mohamed Rohizam and Mohamed Zulfaddli – has given them more bite at the back. 

“All my players have had experience playing in the MJHL and thus we are not exactly raw. But there are no star players and we depend a lot on teamwork. 

“But this weekend, we will be up against two teams that have a lot of experienced players and good coaches to manage their game plan. I expect a close match but I will not worry too much about the results,'' he added. 

Roslan said a defeat would not affect them unduly. They would just forget about the title run-up and concentrate on being in the top six. 

“Honestly it will make my task easier as the players will then not be under any pressure. My main target is to make it into the quarter-finals. We will work from there. If we win (this weekend), then we will have a go at the title but if we lose, we'll know where we stand and take stock of our position,'' he said. 

Last year, MPPJ side lost to Tenaga 3-0 in the preliminary round but did not meet with the Sports School. 

The PJ side's main goal getter is Zaril Mohamed Zafri who has scored three goals thus far. Last year, he was their top scorer with eight goals. He knocked in seven goals from the penalty corner set pieces. 

“Yes, he is still capable of scoring more goals. But there are other players who can be depended on as well,'' he said.  

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