KUALA LUMPUR: Malacca High School face an uphill task to defend their title in the Champions Schools hockey tournament which starts on Friday at the Perlis Sports Complex in Kangar.
The luck of the draw did not favour Malacca High School as they have been grouped together with two other tournament favourites in 10-time champions SMK Anderson of Perak and SMK Padang Midin of Terengganu in Group A.
Only two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals.
SMK Tengku Besar Tampin of Negri Sembilan are the favourites to clinch one of the quarter-finals spot from Group B with Kuala Lumpur's SMK Tinggi Setapak and SMK Khir Johari to slug it out for the other berth.
Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor, and Selangor’s SMK La Salle are the early favourites to make the cut from Group C which also has SMK Syed Hassan from Perlis.
Group D, with four teams, is a more open affair as SMK Seberang Temerloh of Pahang, SMK Penang Free, Kelantan's SMK Hamzah and Royal Military College are all capable of advancing.
“A total of 13 teams are taking part and we are hoping for a good tournament. More importantly, we hope to find new talent to groom for the future,” said Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) vice president and competitions chairman Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid at the draw yesterday.
Milo are the main supporters of the Champions School tournament with a total sponsorship of RM30,000.