THE Malaysia Hockey League TNB Cup quarter-finals will start without favourites Friday, as all four teams are of the same standard.
Premier Division League champions Terengganu Hockey Team and runners-up Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club are seeded into the semi-finals, leaving the other four to battle for two remaining slots.
The first quarters will be between Tenaga Nasional and Maybank, followed by Sapura and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
In the two round league, Tenaga won both with 2-1 scores, while Sapura edged UniKL 2-1 and 3-2.
Tenaga, title sponsors, are the only team to have field an all-local outfit.
“We lost to TNB 2-1 in both home-and-away matches and on paper they certainly have the psychological edge over us,” said Maybank coach S. Vellapan.
“But it only gives us additional strength to get over this and stake a claim in the quarterfinals. There are certain areas we are working on building especially our penalty corners strike rates,” he added.
For the record, Tenaga beat Maybank 5-2 in last year’s TNB Cup third-placing play-off after both teams were tied 2-2 in regulation time.
For Tenaga, who are bent on developing local talent, their goalmouth will be guarded by Malaysia's No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar while the forward line will depend on national striker Shahril Saabah to deliver the goals.
However, Shahril has only scored four goals in 10 matches, while Tenaga's penalty corner battery has been blunt.
The six Project 2016 palyers who helped Tenaga finish fourth in the League are expected to play the leading role again.
The six are Aminudin Zain, Amirol Aideed, Nik Aiman, Najib Abu Hassan, Firdaus Omar and Syed Syafiq.
FRIDAY: Quarter-finals First Leg: Tenaga Nasional v Maybank (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 6pm); Sapura v Universiti Kuala Lumpur (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 8pm).
SUNDAY: Quarter-finals Second Leg -- Universiti Kuala Lumpur v Sapura (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 6pm); Maybank v Tenaga Nasional (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 8pm).