Singapore: Teams to exorcise defensive demons as league reaches pivotal halfway mark |
April 19, 2005
Eddie dos Passos
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By Eddie dos Passos/Singapore Hockey Federation
The men?s Premiership hockey league resumes after last week?s break with some teams still in the hunt for a championship playoff berth.
Now at the halfway stage, two teams have emerged in convincing form, with holders Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) commanding a three point lead over second placed Chenab Hockey Club (CHC).
But the battle is not over as chasing rivals Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) and Ceylon Sports Club (CSC), in third and fourth place respectively have yet to stamp their class and cement a semi-final slot.
Along with fellow strugglers Jansenites and Police, both sides holding up the standings in respective fifth and sixth place, they are still in with a mathematical shot for the crucial fourth place.
All eyes will be on two matches that might yet hold the key to determine the direction of the semis with the Police and CSC encounter likely to rivet fans along with the SCC and SRC match up.
The last time these two teams met, ended in a 5-2 comprehensive victory for Police but their inability to field a full side has seen them drop out of the top four and now place them at the bottom of the table.
Guna Sekaran, CSC manager believes his side has to concentrate or lose their shot at finishing in the top four.
Despite playing a demoralized Police outfit this time around, he doesn?t believe Police?s 0-3 defeat to Jansenites a fortnight ago means they are anything but easy pushovers.
?We play Police and it?s a crucial game for both teams as the fourth spot is still up for grabs between them, Jansenites and us,? Sekaran said.
Compounding CSC?s strength is injuries to two key players sustained in a club friendly last Thursday and the pair are racing against the clock to be match fit.
?We are hoping that Faizal Rahim who has a hamstring problem and Farhan Bin Kamsani (left hand) return for the clash. If they do not recover it will be hard for us to get the three points we desperately need to make the semis,? he said.
Despite the slight injury setback, Sekaran believes they still have what it needs to fend off a Police comeback.
?We will try not to fall for their counter attacks and we must take our chances this time round. The last time we got caught on four occasion in our (5-2) lost to them. We had missed too many chances then. I think it will be very close on Sunday,? he said.
Hoping to continue the good work for Ceylon is their leading scoring machine, captain Hazmi Mohamad to take them further in the league campaign.
?For us there is only one player, Hazmi. He has scored eight of our nine goals this season. We will again rely on his instincts in front of goal to get us a win. We are confident he will do it as he had scored both of our goals in the friendly against the South Africans,? he said.
Sekaran also is aware that they cannot let complacency creep into their game despite Police?s defeat to Jansenites.
?We must not give away the ball or we will be punished again. Police will field their full squad against us. After a disappointing performance against Jansenites in the last game, they will be pushing to bounce back against us,? he said.
SCC will again be up against SRC in what should be a close encounter. The last time these two sides met, ended in an SRC 3-1 victory over a weakened SCC.
The questions, obviously, will be how long can SRC dominance last depends on a number of factors, ranging from remaining injury-free to keeping their top players for each game.
Already they will lack some of their fire-power after losing Hong Kong international Arif Ali to international duty and while SRC skipper Edwin Tan has sorted out a plan to keep them undefeated, he has to worry about how to fend off the chasing pack.
?We did some set pieces in the last week and the team the last weekend organizing the SRC's Schools four-a-side competition. It will be close but I am confident of taking all three points from the game,? Tan said.
Boosting the side?s challenge is the return of Mohd Hafiz from a knee injury and the on form presence of Dexter Kang, who scored a hat-trick in their last outing.
But Tan knows that SCC, currently in third place will want to topple them to regain revenge and a much needed boost up the standings.
?SCC is a young team and although they lack experience and depth in most departments, they do make it up through hard running and teamwork,? he said.
The final match of the day pits Jansenites against second placed Chenab Hockey Club. The more experienced CHC is the likely contender to take all three points and can ?exploit? their young opponents in all departments.
League schedule for 17th April: All matches played at the Delta Sports Complex.
1. Singapore Cricket Club vs Singapore Recreation Club, 16.30
2. Police Sports Association vs Ceylon Sports Club, 18.00
3. Jansenites vs Chenab Hockey Club, 19.30
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