Faizal Saari top of the world after helping THT win the Premier Division title.
THE Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division was again a two-horse race, as four other teams were left in the shadows early in the season.
From the start till the end, 10 home-and-away matches each, Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) and Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) were the sprinters, while Sapura, Tenaga Nasional, Maybank and UniKL were left gasping for breath.
The fact that third-placed Sapura were 10 points off champions THT paints the picture of the MHL.
THT, with four Argentines and a Pakistani, outplayed KLHC 5-4 at their home turf at Batu Buruk -- witnessed by about 3,500 fans in a stadium which can only seat 2,000.
KLHC, with six Pakistan players, were actually undone by Sapura, whom then drew 4-4 and 3-3 earlier.
However, even in the shadows, there is a story to be told by title sponsors Tenaga Nasional.
Tenaga were the only team who opted out of buying foreign players, not because they can't afford it, because they believed in developing youth.
Six Project 2016 players powered Tenaga to finish fourth, with five wins and five narrow defeats.
Comparatively, the bottom two teams Maybank and UniKL had foreign signings. UniKL also had 10 Project 2016 players, but they did not shine as bright as Tenaga's six Project boys.
The Premier Division enters its knock-out stage, with THT and KLHC seeded and await the bottom four teams play in a home-and-away 'quarter-finals' on Sept 11 and 13.
But its predictable that the TNB Cup will again be a toss between KLHC and THT.
P W D L F A Pts
TERENGGANU HT 10 9 0 1 35 17 27
KLHC 10 7 2 1 32 19 23
SAPURA 10 5 2 3 22 22 17
TENAGA 10 5 0 5 17 22 15
MAYBANK 10 1 1 8 17 28 4
UNIKL 10 0 1 9 17 31 1
RESULTS: Division One: Group A -- MBI x BJSS x; Women's Group B: MSN Kedah x KL Sukma x.
TODAY: Division One Group A: TNB Thunderbolts v MSN-THT (SSTMI, 5pm), MSSP-YP-SSP v Masum-USM (Kuantan, 5pm).
Group B: Politeknik v UniKL Young Guns (Taman Daya, 5pm), SSTMI v UiTM (SSTMI, 7pm), Nur Insafi v ATM Airod (Sungai Petani, 5pm).
Women's Group A: The Cops v ATM Pernama (Pitch I, 7pm).