JOHOR BARU: Defending champions Johor Baru will have a fight on their hands in this year’s Johor Under-16 hockey tournament, which gets under way at the Johor Baru City Council AstroTurf Stadium here today.
Newcomers Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar (MSAB), who are better known as English College, will make their debut this year after getting the green light to put up a team.
The college is the centre of excellence for hockey in the state.
Johor Hockey Association (JHA) secretary Manjit Majid Abdullah said 11 teams – one more than last year – will compete in this year’s championship.
“Being the centre of excellence for hockey in the state, MSAB will be among the early favourites for this year’s title. They are capable of giving defending champions Johor Baru a run for their money,” said Manjit.
The teams are divided into three groups with MSAB, Kulai, Muar and Mersing in Group A while Batu Pahat, Pengerang, Pontian and Segamat are in Group B.
Group C consists of Kota Tinggi, Kluang and Johor Baru.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the second round with the six teams drawn into two groups.
The group champions will play in the final on Sunday.
The tournament will also be used to pick the state team for the National Under-16 hockey tournament, which will be held at the KLHA Stadium from March 8-10.
Johor are the defending champions, having beaten Perak 2-0 in last year’s final.