PETALING JAYA: Anderson-XYbase of Ipoh have been around in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) since its inception in 1995. But they have never reached the final.
The best they have done was a semi-final appearance in 2001. They lost to Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ).
This year, they are back in the last four with a revenge 3-1 win over MPPJ in the quarter-finals and they are hoping for better luck this time around.
They will need some luck. The Ipoh side face league champions and last year’s overall runners-up Malaysia Sports School in the first-leg semi-finals at the Tun Razak Stadium on Friday. The return-leg will be played at the Azlan Shah Stadium on Sunday.
Anderson coach Mokhtar Baharudin said they had never qualified for the final and hope to create history by doing so this time. It will not be an impossible task. In the league, the two teams drew 1-1 in Ipoh.
“Before the start of the league, we did not have an experienced team and set only a quarter-final target. Reaching the last four is already a big achievement for us.
“But now, we are not going to be happy with just the semi-finals. We want to go one better, at least,” said Mokhtar, who was savouring their revenge over MPPJ.
“It was great to beat a strong team like MPPJ, who have experience players. Now, we hope to get the better of the league champions.
“My players are in high spirits. I am confident that my players will rise to the occasion,” said Mokhtar.
He admitted that Malaysia SS are a formidable side with good forwards. However, he said, Anderson had a solid defence marshalled by Baljit Singh, a member of the national Under-16 team.
“Baljit together with Amar (Firdaus) and Mohd Fahmi (Baserah) are good defenders and they are capable of stopping the Malaysia SS forwards.
“We are also banking on Baljit, Mohd Hewan (Pami) and Mohd Razali to get the goals through penalty corners,” said Mokhtar.
His team’s weak link, though, is the midfield and forward-line.
“The midfield is a bit shaky while the forward-line led by Fazreen (Eksan Kulub Wahab) have also been goal-shy.
“My forwards cannot afford to miss chances if they hope to reach the final,” said Mokhtar.
The other semi-final match will also be a fiery affair – between defending champions Telekom Pahang and favourites Tenaga Nasional.
RESULTS AND FIXTURES
Group A: Sabah 0 Perak 9. (Perak qualify for the quarter-finals). Group B: Kedah 4 Sarawak 2, Malacca 3 Johor 0. (Malacca and Kedah qualify for the quarter-finals).
Group C: Kelantan 0 Penang 7. Group D: Selangor 4 Pahang 1, Perlis 2 Kuala Lumpur 2. (Selangor qualify for the quarter-finals)
8am: Negri Sembilan vs Sabah, Selangor vs Perlis, Kuala Lumpur vs Pahang. 5pm: Terengganu vs Kelantan, Kedah vs Malacca, Johor vs Sarawak.