Sapura charge into the lead


By S. RAMAGURU

KUALA LUMPUR: Sapura are the new leaders of the Malaysia Hockey League after chalking up a convincing 4-2 win over Customs at the Pandamaran Stadium in Klang yesterday. 

They dislodged Tenaga Nasional from the top and have 20 points but have played a game more. Tenaga remained in second place on 19 points while Ernst and Young moved into third place with the same points. 

Ernst and Young could have taken the lead in the standings had they beaten Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN). Instead they had to come back from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw at the KL Hockey Stadium yesterday. 

In the Klang game national skipper S. Kuhan scored a brace from the penalty corner set-piece moves while Korean import Kang Keon-wook and national player Mohamed Fakhkrulradzi had one goal each. 

Customs scored their goals late in the second half through Ranjit Singh and Mohamed Fhried Abdullah. 

At the KL Hockey Stadium the overall defending champions BSN put up a gritty fight but still failed to stop the Ernst and Young team from securing a point. 

If BSN had lost yesterday, their hopes for a last eight berth could have been badly dented. They took the 35th minute when their Pakistani import Syed Imran Ali Warsi scored with a direct flick. 

An error in the 59th minute by the BSN defenders gave away a penalty corner and Ernst and Young's Indian import Len Aiyappa came to their rescue when he flicked the ball home to share points. 

Ernst and Young coach K. Dharmaraj said the match was tough as their opponents played a defensive game. 

“The pressure was on us and a defeat would have almost certainly ended whatever chances we had for the league title.  

“Now we are still in the running for the league title,” said Kharmaraj. 

The Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium in Ipoh is fast becoming a good hunting ground for Johor Baru City Council (JBCC) in the MHL. 

Yesterday, JBCC chalked up their second straight win when they defeated Dolphins from Lumut Naval Base 2-0. On Friday at the same venue, they edged Ipoh City Council 1-0 for their first victory in the league. 

The two wins, gave them six points and an outside chance of making the cut for the last eight. 

After a quiet first half, JBCC turned aggressive in the second and went ahead in the 45th minute from a penalty corner attempt. 

Bald-headed Razalee Yahya smartly sounded the board with a reversed hit with the entire Dolphins defence rooted after he picked up a loose ball off the penalty corner shot by Mohd Nor Affazly Abdul Ghafar. 

Nor Affazly also went on the scoresheet in the 57th minute with a stinging shot from a penalty corner conversion.  

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