UniKL bank on nine Project 2013 players to secure top four spot

KUALA LUMPUR: Nine Project 2013 players will spearhead Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s (UniKL) challenge in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), which starts tomorrow at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit jalil.

UniKL hope to secure a top-four spot this year despite having the youngest squad in the MHL.

Last year, the team had five foreigners and New Zealand coach Darren Smith to chart their fortunes. But they only managed to finish fifth in the nine-team Premier Division and lost in the quarter-finals to Yayasan NS at the knockout stage.

This will be the team’s third foray in the Premier Division.

UnikL coach K. Embaraj said yesterday that their average age is around 21 years but he feels they have the material to grind out some results.

“There are nine players from the Project 2013 and they are our core players. We are going to take it one step at a time and the main objective for the players is to learn and take responsibility.

“They must also be able to accept their roles in the team and work to perform the task given. The target is simple and that is to improve from last year. Making the top four is a reasonable target,” said Embaraj who will be acting as chief coach for the first time.

He was assistant to I. Vicknesweran in 2009 and then to Darren.

The nine Project players in the squad are Mohd Hafiz Zainol, Mohd Ramadan Rosli, Mohd Noor Faaez Ibrahim, Nor Hizzat Sumantri, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Dedy Ariyadi Jumaidi, Mohd Rashid Baharom, Shahzrul Imran Nazli and Mohd Azri Hassan.

Senior players like S. Selvaraju, Herwan Pami and former national junior goalkeepers Mohd Hakim Adnan and Saiful Azhar Mohd Affendi will provide the experience.

Embaraj said that Selvaraju would not be available for the first two weeks of the action as he is still nursing an ankle injury.

UniKL will open their campaign against UiTM on Sunday.

The MHL will kick off with the Charity Shield match between double champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club and Tenaga Nasional tomorrow.

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