Saturday, September 24, 2016

TNB CUP FINAL: Penalty corners could turn tide...

Sapura's India import Gurbaj Singh (left) challenges KLHC's Meor  Azuan Hasan for the ball during the TNB Cup semi-final second-leg match at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium Friday. KLHC won 3-1 to draw level on aggregate at 4-4. But lost the penalty shoot-out 4-2.

TERENGGANU Hockey Team (THT) will be attempting their third consecutive double, while Sapura Hockey Club their first TNB Cup title in the final of the Malaysia Hockey League today.
  The women will kick-start three finals slated at the Tun Razak Cup with the Vivian Soars Cup being a battle between Blue Warriors and Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI).
  This will be followed by the men's Division One President's Cup final between SSTMI and TNB Thunderbolts.
  And at 8.30pm, the big boys march in to steal the thunder.
  THT has won the League this season, while Sapura the Alagendra Cup and both look good enough to claim the TNB Cup and there will be no underdogs in this match.
  Sapura, even though they have a poor scoring record of only 17 for and 16 against in the League, finished second on 21 points.
  THT were just a point better to claim the League on 22, but their scoring rate in some of the matches was high and they had 29 for and 16 against.
  The top scorer of the MHL is South Korean import Jang Jung Hyun on 14 goals, 13 of which were off penalty corners and second on the list is also a THT player Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin on nine goals.
  Both the players will again play a pivotal role to help their team's cause for a treble double.
  As for Sapura, Australia Oscar William Wookey is their top-scorer with four goals.
  Sapura coach Yahya Atan, whose men had beaten THT 2-0 but then lost 4-1 in the two-leg league, is naturally worried about Jang's penalty corner conversion rate.
  "We gave away too many penalty corners in the last match and lost 4-1 (Jang scored three). And so, in the final, my players will try and play clean hockey in the circle as not to give THT the edge they will be looking for.
  "If we can hold back the penalty corners, I believe we will finally lay our hands on the Overall title which we last won 10 years ago," said Yahya.
  THT coach Sarjit Singh does not believe in history as he is always looking forward.
  "For me, holding records is worthless if we can't keep creating them. That's why we will be looking forward to another title when we play tomorrow (today) and not bask on the glory of our two previous TNB Cups.
  "That can be done after the final whistle is blown," said Sarjit, a former national coach as well as skipper.
  The battle-lines have been drawn, and its too close to call. But as Yahya predicted, penalty corners could decide this crackling encounter.
  SUNDAY: TNB Cup Final: Terengganu v Sapura (Tun Razak, 8.30pm).
  President's Cup Final: SSTMI v TNB Thunderbolts (Tun Razak, 6pm).
  Vivian Soars Cup Final: Blue Warriors v SSTMI (Tun Razak, 4pm).