KUALA LUMPUR: MSS Terengganu's upset win over Telekom Pahang has sent shock waves to the teams in Division One of the MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League.
And title contenders Tenaga Nasional are bracing themselves for a rough ride against the Terengganu side on Friday.
Tenaga coach K. Rajan said that the East coast side's victory over defending overall champions Telekom was a clear signal that no team could be taken for granted in the top division.
“You can bet that they will go all out for a win against us. The win over Telekom is a big boost for them and we can expect a tough match against them on Friday,” said Rajan yesterday.
MSS Terengganu defeated Telekom 2-1 in Kuala Terengganu and they have turned the race for the Division One title to a six-horse affair.
“Earlier there were thrre or four teams in contention for the title but the scenario has changed considerably. The lower ranked teams actually hold the key to who wins the league title,” added Rajan.
Tenaga will be up against two tough teams before the league takes a three-week break for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh from March 22-30.
Rajan is aware of the scoring shortcomings of his team.
“Our finishing is a cause for concern. We have been missing numerous chances to score from close range. I can understand if they are off target from the top D but they are muffing chances in front of the goal. We may live to regret those missed chances later,” he said.
Those who have been guilty of blunt finishing are S. Selvaraju, Abbas Nekmat, Kelvinder Singh, Mohamed Fairus Hamsani and Azli Misron and Rajan hopes that they will sharpen up.
“I have the feeling that the title could well be decided on goal difference. We have to start converting the chances,” he said.
Tenaga have scored 12 goals in the four matches and they have conceded four. Malaysia Sports School, who are at the top of the table, have scored 16 goals and conceded four.
Besides Tenaga, Telekom and Malaysia Sports School, the other teams in contention for the title are Anderson-XYBase, MPPJ and MPK-Olak.
Terengganu will put themselves in the running if they overcome Tenaga on Friday.
Rajan added that Tenaga's title challenge would fall into place this weekend.
“We will be playing against Telekom on Sunday. We cannot afford to lose the two matches,” he said.
“The three-week break is a welcome relief for us because we will be able to take stock of our position and plan for the final three matches.
“But before that we have to take full points in the two matches this weekend. It will be close and tough. But for me this will decide if we have the potential to win the title.”
Tenaga have an experience side but they have not been able to play well as a unit.
“We make life difficult for ourselves. We dominate matches but struggle to get a win,” said Rajan.
“I hope the players will realise that and work at making a good team effort. I feel confident that they will rise to the occasion this weekend.”
Besides Tenaga's showdown with Terengganu and Telekom, the other big match-up of the weekend is the clash between the table-toppers Malaysia Sports School and Anderson.