TENAGA Nasional threw away the lead to go down 2-1 to Maybank in the TNB Cup First Leg quarter-finals at a haze enveloped National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In the other quarters, Sapura beat Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) 3-0 -- and it looks like the second leg is also going to be uphill for the University side.
The API reading for Bukit Jalil was 276, when Azril Misron gave Tenaga a fifth minute lead off a field attempt.
But inexperience was Tenaga's downfall, as they allowed Maybank into the match and goals from Hafifi Hafiz in the 46th, and India import B. Deepanshu in the 59th gave Maybank a slight edge going into the return leg.
For the record, it was Deepanshu's first goal of the season.
As for Sapura, Pakistan's Mumammad Imran starred in their show with fifth and seventh minute penalty corner goals, while the other goal was scored by Norsyafiq Sumantri (25th).
Maybank coach S. Vellapan was elated with the knock-out win, after losing 2-1 twice to Tenaga in the League.
"We went down twice in the League to Tenaga, and so I see this win as a good improvement and goin into the return leg, I believe my players will again perform and take us into the semis," said Vellapan.
League champions Terengganu Hockey Team and runners-up Kuala Lumpur Hockey Team are seeded into the semi-finals in this six-team tournament.
Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini was peeved with his charges, as he felt that eventhough they are young, they should have improved after playing 10 matches in the MHL Premier Division.
"First of all, I am not looking for excuses in this defeat. I'm simply not happy with the way my charges played, as after 10 matches in the League, the eight Project 2016 players should have showed improvement in the knock-out, but they were a let-down.
"There Project boys were also not available to train with us as they had their own training programme leading to the Junior Asia Cup, and this, to a certain aspect, disrupted my preparations of the team.
"They commuted between Tenaga and Project training and looked a little jaded and tired. However, having said that, Tenaga fully support the system, and understand that the Project boys had to attend training with their coach (Arul Selvaraj)," said Nor Saiful.
RESULTS: Quarter-finals First Leg: Tenaga Nasional 1 Maybank 2; Sapura 3 Universiti Kuala Lumpur 0.
TOMORROW: Quarter-finals Second Leg -- Universiti Kuala Lumpur v Sapura (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 6pm); Maybank v Tenaga Nasional (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 8pm).