TWENTY bus-loads of fans from Terengganu will arrive Sunday to cheer-on Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) in their quest to win back-to-back doubles in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League.
THT will face nemesis Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) for the TNB Cup at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, with no clear favourites.
KLHC lost both their titles to THT last season, and also crumbled 5-4 in the League this year -- but their 6-2 Charity Shield win still troubles THT.
Playing at the Batu Buruk Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, 3,500 fans in a 2,000-capacity stadium played a role of the twelfth player to cheer on THT to a slim win for the League title.
"Fans played a big role in our success this season, and as a reward, as well as for another round of support, 20 buses will arrive from Terengganu for the TNB Cup final," said THT assistant coach Shamsol Ismail.
THT are dead serious about claiming the double again, as coach Sarjit Singh could be seen, from the window, busy training his charges while the press conference was ongoing.
Terengganu skipper Shahrun Nabil feels they have a good chance if they play like they did against Maybank in the second leg of the TNB Cup semi-finals.
"We need to bring out that same determination on Sunday, because we were down 3-5 to Maybank from the first leg, but went on to carve a hard-fought 7-2 victory in the return leg. That's the way I want my team-mates to play again against KLHC," said Shahrun Nabil.
KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj believes it will be a close game, and could even end up in a shoot-out.
"In my 17 years in the MHL, I have taken my side to 15 finals and lost four titles on shoot-outs. TNB Cup finals, especially, have been very close affairs and so, we are prepared for all eventualities this time around," said Dharmaraj.
KLHC will again rely on Malaysia's No 1 penalty corner flicker Razie Rahim, who has delivered a total of 11 goals this season -- one field, nine penalty corners and one penalty stroke.
The other KLHC trump card is Pakistan import Ali Shan who has scord six of which three were from field and three from penalty corners.
As for THT Premier Division top-scorer Faizal Shaari, 17 goals, will be the man to stop. Faizal scored 10 field, five penalty corner and two penalty stroke goals and is an all-rounder.
THT also have Tengku AHmad Tajuddin, 10 goals, who has been playing his best games in the TNB Cup knock-out stage.
With no clear favourites, the TNB Cup final could go either way, but one thing is for sure -- it will be worth the time and effort put in by fans to travel to the stadium, or watch it live on Astro Arena 801.
SUNDAY: Final -- Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v Terengganu Hockey Team (8pm, Pitch II); Third-Fourth: Maybank v Sapura (6pm, Pitch II).
Note: Both matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.