From LEFT: Terengganu coach Sarjit Singh and skipper Faizal Shaari. Police skipper Baljit Singh and coach Gurmit Singh.
FORMER National coaches Sarjit Singh and Gurmit Singh were all-praises about each other's abilities yesterday, but the good friends will leave no stone unturned to beat the other to the 54th Razak Cup Division One title at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil Sunday.
Gurmit will have a slight advantage, as Polices' secret weapon has been penalty corner specialists Razie Rahim and Baljit Singh, while Nabil Fiqri is a super feeder.
Former national player Baljit has completed his Inspector's training, while national players Nabil and Razie joined a nine-month training stint with Police on May 8, but received exemption to play hockey.
Sarjit will again bank on his 13 Malaysia Games players, and Faizal Shaari, who is tied on five goals with Razie for the top-scorers' award.
In Division Two, Perlis will play Penang and the champion will gain promotion. And in the inaugural women's Razak Cup, Pahang will play Armed Forces.
"I was assistant coach to Sarjit for the 2008 Olympics Qualifier in Japan (Kakamigahara) and learned much from him. We are very good friends off the pitch, but for four quarters tomorrow (today) we will be planning to beat the other at any cost," said Gurmit.
Police have had a fairy-tale run thus far, as last season they ended as Division Two champions with 17 goals scored by their skipper Baljit. And barely 12 months later, they are in the final of Division One.
"We had had had a tough journey to reach the final, with Malacca (2-2) and Perak (3-0) giving us a really tough fight (Police scored all three goals in the last quarter).
"And with the cup just one step away, I believe my team-mates will give their very best to win the first Division One title for Police," said skipper Baljit.
Terengganu, who last won the title in 2012, but Sarjit is a master tactician, who has turned his 13 Malaysia Games players into gems.
"My young players have a never-say-die attitude and execute different plans for different teams without asking questions.
"They have managed to adapt to many different styles of play in this tournament, and even though Gurmit is a very good friend, I have a plan to beat his team to the title," said Sarjit.
Both Sarjit and Gurmit were unceremoniously dumped after Malaysia finished third in the Kakamigahara Olympic qualifier, but rose from the ashes to lead their teams into the final.
RESULTS: Division One: Third-Fourth: Malacca x Perak x; Fifth-Sixth: Negri Sembilan x Kuala Lumpur x; Seventh-Eighth: Pahang x Johor (6pm, Pitch I).
Division Two: Third-Fourth: Kelantan x Forces x.
Women's Round Two - Group X: Malacca x Pahang x; Group Y: Perak x Selangor x; Group M: Terengganu x Malacca x; Group N: Johor x Penang x.
SUNDAY: Division One Final: Terengganu v Police (8.35pm, Pitch II).
Division Two Final: Penang v Perlis (6pm, Pitch II).
Women's Final: Pahang v Armed Forces (4pm, Pitch II); Third-Fourth: Kuala Lumpur v Selangor (4pm, Pitch I); Fifth-Sixth: Malacca v Perak (9.30am, Pitch II); Seventh-Eighth: Terengganu v Johor (7.30am, Pitch I); Ninth-10th: Sarawak v Penang (7.30am, Pitch II); 11th-12th: Kedah v Sabah (9.30pm, Pitch I).