MALACCA: It looks like Kuala Lumpur’s domination of the National Under-21 Hockey Tournament is about to come to an abrupt end.
This year’s tournament, which begins at the Bukit Serendit Hockey Stadium today, will definitely be a more open and exciting affair thanks to the introduction of the new rule by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF).
Under the new rule players can only represent their home states for all MHF tournaments.
This will definitely affect defending champions Kuala Lumpur’s chances of bagging their sixth consecutive title in the tournament.
Besides that, the National Juniors are also not allowed to feature in the tournament. They are, instead, to prepare for the Junior World Cup in Rotterdam, Holland, in June.
In the absence of the National Juniors, states like Perak, Penang and Malacca will now have a better chance of outdoing Kuala Lumpur.
Ten state teams have confirmed their participation in the tournament, along with Singapore and the MHF Project Squad, which is basically the National Under-16 team.
The state teams are Perak, Penang, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Kelantan, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, Singapore have warned their rivals that they were here not to make up the numbers.
“Do not take us for granted. Despite being in the company of favourites Perak and dark horses Negri Sembilan and Pahang in Group B, we are capable of springing a couple of surprises,” said Singapore manager Ronnie Wee yesterday.
Singapore, coached by South Korean Park Young-jo, open their campaign today against Penang at 9.30pm.
During the managers’ meeting yesterday, tournament director Anthony Dass has agreed to accommodate the media by rescheduling the semi-finals.
The first semi-final match on February 26 will now be held at 3.30pm instead of 7.30pm.
The other match-up is scheduled at 5.30pm instead of 9.30pm.