Nur Insafi goalkeeper Bharat Kumar Chetri (left) blocks an attempt by Sapura’s Muhamamad Marhan Mohd Jalil in their MHL Premier Division first leg quarter-final match at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday. Sapura won 4-1. Pic: OSMAN ADNAN
UNIKL-IBIL wore down Maybank with their blistering pace before snatching a 3-3 draw in the first leg quarter-final of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division at Tun Razak Stadium yesterday.
The youthful side, with an average age of 22, held a 2-1 lead for 20 minutes, before almost collapsing due to lack of experience, but did just enough to stay alive for the return leg.
Maybank took the lead through Azzami Adabi in the 16th minute, but after the breather, UniKL scored two goals via Khairil Anuar in the 37th and Noor Faeez Ibrahim in the 43rd minute.
Maybank banked on their experience to draw level through Hafifi Hafiz (63rd) and Azzami (65th), but could not hold onto the lead as UniKL upped the tempo again and Noor Faez nailed the third goal in the 67th minute.
Maybank missed defender K. Gobinahan who was left warming the bench after he pulled a hamstring and will not be available for the return leg.
At the KLHA Stadium, League champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club hammered ATM-Airod 10-2 to confirm their semi-finals ticket. KLHC were in total command, and the second leg tomorrow will be purely academic for them.
Razie Rahim started the goal-count in the ninth minute, and then scored his brace in the 24th minute.
The other goals came off Chua Boon Huat (27th, 31st, 45th), Ismail Abu (28th, 45th), Harvinder Singh (52nd) and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (64th, 66th).
At the Tun Razak Stadium, Sapura beat Nur Insafi 4-1 to virtually confirm their semi-finals slot.
Sapura and KLHC will clash in the semi-final, unless their rivals pull off a miracle in the return leg.
Sapura took a 4-0 lead with goals from Jiwa Mohan (fifth), Rodhanizam Radzi (14th), Marhan Jalil (42nd) and Kazamirul Nasruddin (48th) before Sundeep Michael pulled one back for Nur Insafi in the 60th minute.
"Yes, I will be fielding my reserves for the return leg to avoid injuries and cards.
"However, I would like to congratulate ATM-Airod for playing good hockey for the first 20 minutes.
"They were even 1-1 with us after 12 minutes of play, but crumbled because they lacked experience," said KLHC coach R. Vivekanandan.
The most exciting match of the day was between youngsters UniKL-IBIL and Maybank, who also played to a 4-4 draw in the last encounter in Malacca.
"The feeling is simply great because my boys managed to hold an experienced team like Maybank to a draw twice in a row.
“The second draw was even sweeter for me, because my players did not crack under pressure, and we live to fight on," said UniKL-IBIL coach I. Vickneswaran.
RESULTS: Q-finals, first leg: KLHC 10 ATM-Airod 2, Nur Insafi 1 Sapura 4, Maybank 3 UniKL-IBIL 3, UiTM 0 Tenaga 2.
SUNDAY : Tenaga v UiTM (4.30pm, KLHA Stadium).
UniKL-IBIL vs Maybank (4.30pm), Sapura vs Nur Insafi (6.30pm), ATM-Airod vs KLHC (8.30pm).
*Matches at Tun Razak Stadium.