KUALA LUMPUR: Sapura are the leaders but Tenaga Nasional hold the advantage to win the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) title.
The competition takes a five-week break and Sapura have 20 points from eight matches one more than Tenaga, Ernst and Young and Maybank. But Tenaga have played one match fewer than Sapura and will take the title if they win their remaining four matches.
Sapura skipper S. Kuhan said they could only hope for Tenaga to slip up.
We need to look at our games and improve on it over the next five weeks to get ready for the knockout stage and also to capitalise on any slip-up by Tenaga, he said.
Sapura could have kept it a two-horse race going into the break but they lost two points in the 2-2 draw with Maybank.
Sapura and Tenaga are the unbeaten teams in the competition thus far. They won six matches and drew two while Tenaga have won six and drew one.
Ernst and Young have six wins, a draw and a defeat and skipper Mirnawan Nawawi said: Our chances (to win the title) are slim but we are not going to throw in the towel.
We will keep plugging away and should the top two teams falter, we will move in. We need to keep winning to put the pressure on them.
Tenaga coach K. Rajan said that it would be a folly for them to think that the title had been won.
We still have two big matches against BSN (Bank Simpanan Nasional) and Maybank. They can hit form and beat us. All it takes is one defeat to turn the title race around, he said.
We are having a break but it does not really benefit us. I cant have a full team to work on because 14 of the players are with the senior and junior national teams. And all these players are part of my first 11 combinations.
Maybank, who led the 12-team league for last three weeks, were beaten for the first time by Ernst and Young.
But they are not perturbed about it and coach Wallace Tan said: We are still a long way from matching the best. We have a young team and need at least two more years to mature.
Except for Dolphins, all the team below the top four still have the chance to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Customs with 12 points and BSN with 10 points have an easier task of making the cut. But teams like Srii Aroma, Ipoh City Hall, Johor Baru City Council, Pahang Sports Council and Royal Malay Regiment still are very much in the fight to make the grade.
Johor Baru City Council, who had lost their opening five matches, joined the fray with two wins in Ipoh last weekend.
The competition resumes on Aug 1.