KUALA LUMPUR: Defending overall champions Telekom Pahang are having sleepless nights.
They crashed to an unexpected defeat by MSS Terengganu and now face the daunting task of having to win their remaining matches if they hope to win the MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League's Division One title.
To compound their problem, they have several players who are in danger of having to serve a one-match suspension because of card offences.
Telekom have registered only 16 players instead of the maximum 20 and will have a depleted side if their players have to sit out matches because of suspension.
Telekom coach Izwan Suhardy said yesterday that they needed to win the matches against Johor Sports Council and Tenaga Nasional this weekend to stay in contention for the title.
“We have to win. Otherwise, we can forget about winning the Division One title. Draws may not be good enough. I want the players to fight and make the grade by themselves and through favours from others,” he said.
On the cliff edge for suspension are Afiruddin Bakri and Zulhilmi Abdul Wahab, who have six demerit points. They will have to sit out one match if they pick up another card.
“There are also a few more with four demerit points and will be suspended if they receive the yellow card. This is a crucial weekend for us and I hope none of them will get suspended,” said Izwan.
“We will be up against the less fancied Johor SC but we cannot take them for granted. We learnt it the hard way against MSS Terengganu last week.
“We have our backs against the wall following the defeat and now we have to worry about suspensions too.”
Izwan added that the team were free from injury and they had stepped up the pace in training over the last two days.
“Our penalty corner set pieces have not been effective. We have also found difficulty to take advantage of our domination of a match,” he said.
“Therefore, we need to work on our set pieces and on the field formation. We cannot afford to falter. We have to win the remaining matches.
“We have scored only 10 goals in four matches and we have to pile up the goals too because the title may be decided on goal difference.”