KUALA LUMPUR: Tables toppers Maybank have no illusion over their ability to win titles in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
Coach Wallace Tan said yesterday they did not have a side matured enough yet to be among the contenders for titles.
“We are at the top of the table with the maximum 12 points because we had a run against weaker opponents in our first four matches,” said Wallace.
“That will change. We will play against overall champions BSN (Bank Simpanan Nasional) on Sunday and we have back-to-back matches against Sapura and Ernst and Young the following weekend.”
The Tigers began their campaign with a 2-0 win over Srii Aroma and they went on to beat Pahang Sports Council (2-1), Royal Malay Regiment (4-2) and Customs (2-0) for maximum points.
Wallace added that they were still in the process of rebuilding a team, which began last year when they hired youngsters Mohaned Riduan Nasir, Abdul Shukor Adam, Mohamed Izwan Hassan, Engku Abdul Malek and goalkeeper Mohamed Hanafi Hassan.
This year, they included two national Under-19 players, Ismail Abu and Mohamed Suppian Mohamed, in their side.
“They will be the ones to form the core of the new Maybank team. Hopeful, we will be able to challenge strongly for titles in two years' time,” said Wallace.
“Players like Ismail and Suppian are playing in the MHL for the first time and they need time to mature.”
He added that they had to continue to rely on home grown talent.
“We cannot compete with the big teams for the stars players. They are expensive and prefer to have contracts to play for the team,” said Wallace.
Former champions Maybank will play against another relatively weaker side on Friday – against Ipoh City Hall.
“If we get full points from Ipoh City Hall, it means getting a place in the quarter-finals. Then we can play against the bigger teams without any worry or pressure,” said Wallace.
Maybank have several seniors to guide the youngsters. Among them are K. Gobinathan, Paul Lopez, Suhairi Saidi, Shaiful Azli and Suhaimi Ibrahim.
Another national player Chairil Anwar is nursing a leg injury and he is expected to see action after the MHL break from June 23.
The other matches for Maybank before the break are against BSN on Sunday, Sapura (June 20) and Ernst and Young (June 21).
“This season is a learning experience for the players. They need to fear no one,” said Wallace.
Maybank’s last won the MHL league title in 1995. The previous season, they won the league and overall titles.