09 Jan 2014

The latest edition of the MHC-MILO-NSC Junior Hockey League will not only see a record number of entries but -provide the perfect platform for states to fine tune their Sukma teams.

SSTMI-Thunderbolt start as the favourites to land the double yet again in the 30-team competition. There are seven teams in Division One while 23 will play in the three-pool Division Two.

The other teams in Division One are Anderson-Perak SEDC, SSTMI Juniors, UniKL, Malacca High School, Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MBPJ) and last year’s Division Two winners KLSS-KLHC Juniors.

SSTMI is aware that the race for the league title will be fast and furios as they expect at least three other teams to be in the running. These three are liely to be UniKL, Malacca High and MBPJ.

But Anderson and KLSS-KLHC  Juniors cannot be discounted form the fray just yet.

SSTMI coach Wan Mohamed Roslan said that with just six matches to go for the title, no team can make a mistake form the start.

“Every match is going to count and even a draw at the early stage cane be fatal. We have to start with a win and keep going. I believe that there will be more than two teams in the title mix this year. So we will be wary of all the teams. Wem want to win the two title again,” he said.

The race in Division Two will be a little different in that the league champion will not get any extra prize money.

The total prize money (RM 33,000) allocated for the Division Two winners has been structured to  be evenly divided among the top three teams.

There are three groups with eight teams in two pools and seven in the other.

Teams like BJSS, Olak, 1Mas penang, 1Mas kelantan and KLHC Juniors are likely to be the front sunners for the title.

This year only four teams from Division One will make the cut to the knockout stage. The other four teams will come from Division Two.

These four Division Two teams will have an added incentive as they were also get to be promoted to Division ONe in 2015 as the MHC are planning a 10-team Division One.

Thus there is likely to be extra excitement in the Division Two matches this year.

Another feature in this year’s league is that the [;ayers who are eligible to play in the 2016 Junior World Cup will get a chance to make the training squad.

The MHC selectors will be out to pick the initial squad and at leats 40 players are liekly to gain selection.

Thus players in bvoth Divisions willhave extra reason to try and shine in their matches to catch the eyes of the selectors led by the caretaker coaches of the project 2016 teams - Lim Chiow Chuan and Tai Beng Hai.

All said and done the MJHL has grown and become an important part of the MHC development programme. The increase in the number of teams is proof of its relevance.

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