High-riding KLHC take cautious path

KUALA LUMPUR: Unbeaten Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) hold a five-point lead at the top of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division but coach R. Vivekanandan is preaching caution as the competition goes into the second round on Friday.

“We cannot take our position for granted and it is better we keep our feet firmly on the ground and continue to work hard for victories,” he said.

“It was a good weekend for us in Penang. But we needed to be shaper and we also have to improve on certain areas.”

Newcomers KLHC, who have the bulk of players from last year’s double champions Ernst and Young, took their 100% win record to five matches last weekend, beating Maybank 4-2 in a top-of-the-table clash and then defeated Nur Insafi 5-2.

Vivekanandan said that a cause for concern was the team’s poor conversion rate in penalty corners.

“We had seven penalty corners against Maybank and another eight against Nur Insafi. But we only managed to convert one against Nur Insafi through Mohamed Razie Rahim,” he said.

“But I have to say our opponents have good goalkeepers and good first runners to foil us. Therefore we have to look at more variations to be more effective.”

KLHC will be up against the same teams this weekend as they did in Penang. They will play against Nur Insafi on Friday and will be up against Maybank on Saturday.

“Maybank did not have a good outing in Penang. That makes them more dangerous as they will be out to narrow the gap at the top,” said Vivekanandan.

“No team can be discounted at this stage. Some may be out of contention for the league title but they will certainly want to beat us. That is why I have told my players to stay focus and not take any game lightly.”

KLHC have 15 points while Maybank are on 10 points. Tenaga Nasional have moved into third place on nine points and could capitalise if the top two stumble in the second round.

Sapura, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and Nur Insafi will be hard pressed to offer any meaningful challenge for the title at this stage.

Nur Insafi coach S. Tatchana Murthy had issues with the umpires for the matches in Penang and wanted the MHF to review their performances before making their selection for the second round.

“The umpiring standard was below par in Penang. I do not know why blatant fouls by the top teams were ignored while we were penalised for the slightest infringement,” he said.

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