SAPURA goalkeeper Hairi Rahman played the game of his life to deny Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) an upset in the Second Leg Quarter-finals of the TNB Cup at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
UniKL had made a super comeback, after losing 3-0 in the First Leg, to lead 3-2 going into the last quarter of the match, but five super saves from Hairi denied UniKL of a dream shoot-out.
Sapura won 5-3 on aggregate, and will play Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club in the two-leg semi-finals on Tuesday and Thursday.
The other semi-finals will be between Terengganu Hockey Team and Maybank, after the Tigers beat Tenaga Nasional 3-2 to advance on 5-3 aggregate.
Pakistan import Muhammad Imran scored for Sapura in the third, but Azwar Rahman equalsied for UniKL. Sapura again took the lead off Faridzul Afiq in the 14th minute.
However, Richard Sykes (43rd) and Haziq Samsul (45th) made it 3-2 for UniKL, only to see goalkeeper Hairi standing in their path to an upset in the final 15 minutes.
As for Maybank, Ahmad Kazamirul (14th, 50th) and Hafifi Hafiz (42nd) sounded the board, while Shahril Saabah (27th) and Ramadan Rosli (52nd) scored for Tenaga.
Sapura coach Tai Beng Hai said they eased off to early: "After scoring an early goal we became too comfortable and made the match difficult, this was not part of the plan, as we have only one day to rest before taking on KLHC in the semi-finals."
As for UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj, he was glad they finally won a match this season.
"We only had a draw to show in the League and this win is crucial for the club as we progress slowly on the development of youth.
"Hats off to Sapura goalkeeper (Hairi) who denied us five shots at goal in the last quarter," said Arul.
Meanwhile in the women's Junior Asia Cup final in Changzhou, China beat Japan 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after 2-2 on regulation time. For the bronze, South Korea beat India 3-2. The top-three teams advance to the Junior World Cup.
Malaysia finished fifth after beating Thailand 3-1 on Saturday.
RESULTS: Quarter-finals Second Leg:
Universiti Kuala Lumpur 3 Sapura 2.
(Sapura win 5-3 on aggregate)
Maybank 3 Tenaga Nasional 2.
(Maybank win 5-3 on aggregate)
TUESDAY --Semi-finals (First Leg): Terengganu Hockey Team v Maybank (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 6pm); Sapura v Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 8pm).
THURSDAY: Semi-finals (Second Leg): Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v Sapura (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 6pm), Maybank v Terengganu Hockey Team (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 8pm).