MAYBANK almost pulled off the biggest upset of the TNB Cup, but they lost their scrip in the final quarter and could only beat league champions Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) 5-3 in the First Leg Semi-finals at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil Tuesday.
Maybank played like Tigers, to take a 4-1 lead, but allowed THT to claw back into the match.
Pakistan import Muhammad Irfan scored the opener for Maybank in the 15th minute, but Faizal Shaari equalised with his 14th goal for THT in the 17th minute.
Irfan took his MHL tally to five goals in the 27th minute, while Hafifi Hafiz (23rd) and Syafiq Mohamed Zain (41st) made it 4-1.
However, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (45th) and Malaysia Hockey League top scorer Faizal scored his 15th goal in the 50th minute to narrow the gap to 3-4.
Maybank's Syafiq got his brace in the 59th minute to give his side a two-goal cushion going into the Second Leg tomorrow.
Maybank coach S. Vellapan hit it right when he said: "Desire and self-believe is what my players had in this game, as THT is a much more talented side."
Last season Maybank beat THT 3-2 in the First Leg Semi-finals, but crumbled 1-6 in the Second Leg.
"We can't rely on a two-goal cushion against a team like THT as they almost turned the match in the last quarter today (yesterday). We will have to keep the same momentum and speed for the next 60 minutes if we want to play in the final," said Vellapan.
THT coach Sarjit Singh did not expect to lose yesterday, but he is confident it is only a temporary set-back.
"Maybank played extremely well but I am confident my players will overcome the two-goal cushion on Thursday and take us into the final," said Sarjit.
THT had a 10-day rest as they did not play in the quarter-finals after being seeded, while Maybank played a grueling match against Tenaga on Sunday to reach the last four.
RESULTS --Semi-finals (First Leg): Terengganu Hockey Team 3 Maybank 5; Sapura 0 Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club 6.
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).