It will all be down to the mind game when Kelantan’s SMK Putera takes on favourites Bukit Jalil Sports School Under-16 team in the final of the Ministry of Education League Cup (MELC) Under-17 tomorrow.
The final of the MELC this year will be played at the Mini Stadium of the Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School in Johor.
Going into the final game of the season, Kelantan coach Rizalman Hassan admitted that while Bukit Jalil will be the clear favourites for the crown, it does not mean that SMK Putera will just let their opponents run rings around them.
“Bukit Jalil has some of the best age-group players in the country and given that they have been playing together for several years, it has given them some advantage,” said Rizalman.
“So it will all be down to the mind game. We have to be at our best and look for areas which we can exploit.
“Bukit Jalil has shown that they often make mistakes and be vulnerable when under pressure. So we have to press and shut them down early, so that they cannot pass the ball around. We have to be more disciplined.”
SMK Putera will be aiming to pick up their second title of the MELC U17 after winning it in its inaugural year in 2008.
And while they did not show their true prowess in the group stage, the knock-out quarter-finals and also semi-finals have shown that SMK Putera might just be able to deliver an upset.
In the meantime, Kok Keng Lin the head coach of the Bukt Jalil Sports School, said that his main priority would be to calm jangled nerves and maintain focus for the task at hand.
“We have to settle things within the 90 minutes which means the players must always be at 100%,” said Keng Lin.
“We made some mistakes in the last two matches. We were a little slow to press the opponents when we lose the ball and I thought that we did not work hard enough.
“I’m just looking at improving our own game rather than how Kelantan will come at us. If we can play at the level I know that we could then we should win the match. The mind factor will be important in the final.”
For the record, the Bukit Jalil U15 team had previously won the MELC U17 in 2009.
The MELC and 100PLUS Super Cup are among several youth programmes and competitions supported by 100PLUS, Malaysia’s leading isotonic beverage.
The others include the 100PLUS Malaysian Junior Golf Open and the 100PLUS National Junior Badminton Circuit. 100PLUS is recommended by the National Sports Council.
FINAL – (30 Oct 2015)
At Mini Stadium of Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School, Johor
Kick-off at 4.15pm
SMK Putera (KELANTAN) vs Bukit Jalil Sports School (U16)
SMK Putera (in all red) against SMK Seberang Temerloh (in all yellow) in a group match.