IPOH: Defending champions KL Hockey Club put up a scrappy display on a slippery pitch and yet came off with a 3-1 win over Armed Forces-Airod in the Premier Division match of the Malaysia Hockey League at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here yesterday.
It was hardly the kind of performance expected of the champions, especially after their 12-goal blast last weekened – against Sapura (6-2) and Yayasan Negri Sembilan (6-3).
Former international Chuan Boon Huat was the hero for KL Hockey Club, scoring a brace in the 10th and 50th minutes while Mohd Razie Rahim added the third with his fifth penalty corner goal of the tournament in the 69th minute.
Armed Forces goalkeeper Mohd Kahirul Affendy deserves credit for some fines saves which kept his team in the fight right up to the end.
Ahmed Ridzuan Zainal Abidin scored the solitary goal for the soldiers with a field goal in the 49th minute.
KLHC coack K. Dharmaraj said that both teams were at a disadvantage on the poor pitch and that the win was more important than piling up the goals.
“The Army side played a defensive game, just as we expected, and the pitch was slippery. So I am glad we got all three points. There is no doubt that our penalty corner battery today was not good enough. To score one goal out of eight attempts is bad,” he said.
And he is hoping that his men will raise their game when they face Nur Insafi today.
“I think the situation is the same for all the teams and I am sure we will see some upsets over the weekend,’ said Dharmaraj.
KLHC remain in the second spot with nine points – one behind defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional.
Armed Forces coach K. Rajan also blamed the poor pitch condition for the scrappy game.
“Both teams have raised the matter with the technical officials. As for the match, we have improved our defensive play and it was good to score against KLHC, who have some seasoned players. We have been improving with each match and it is good for the team,” he said.
Tenaga Nasional, meanwhile, struggled to overcome basement team UiTM 3-2 in the second match of the day.
Tajol Rosli gave Tenaga an electrifying start, scoring a field goal in the fifth minute. Maninder Singh then made it 2-0 in the 19th minute.
But UiTM came out fighting in the second half to reduce the deficit against the run of play in the 44th minute through a Faheed Saiffullah penalty corner.
Inspired, UiTM surged forward. But it was Tenaga who scored, netting their third goal in the 59th minute through Mohamed Fikri Bassar.
That did not dampen UiTM’s spirits and, in the 70th minute, Eldon Lemery went on a solo run to score a superb goal.
Unfortunately, their fightback came a little too late.
Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini was unhappy with his players’ performance.
“It was a nightmarish performance by my players. We missed a lot of chances and failed to score from some good chances. We need to improve for the next game quickly,” he said, referring to their match against UniKL today.