MALAYSIA Hockey League (MHL) League champions Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) will square off against 'dreaded' opponent Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) in the two-leg TNB Cup semifinals starting Sunday.
In the League, UniKL held THT 2-2 and then 1-1 -- in the home and away encounters.
The other semifinals will be between Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Tenaga Nasional. This encounter is just as unpredictable as in the League, Tenaga upset KLHC 4-2 and then were whitewashed 4-0 in the return leg.
UniKL are hoping for a third draw in the first leg semifinals, to keep their hopes alive of playing in the TNB Cup final.
“We will adapt the approach tactically as we did in our two league matches, which is to push them hard and put them under constant pressure," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.
Arul's main concern is injuries as well as fatigue, as the second leg will be played on Wednesday.
As it stands, import players goalkeeper David Harte (hamstring) and Kieren Govers sat out their final League match against TNB.
THT coach Sarjit Singh is optimistic that his team is ready for another title.
"I told my players before Friday (when they beat KLHC to the League title), that we must never end without a title this season and they delivered.
"And the League title should be the tonic needed by my players to win both the semifinals and have a shot at winning their second title," said Sarjit.
In the other semis, KLHC and Tenaga are expected to play it safe on Sunday.
“The semis are a different ball game altogether. Stakes are higher and teams will step up their game. As such, chances are equal for all teams,” said KLHC coach Lim Chiow Chuan.
“We can't say that we have better chances based on history. The 4-0 victory four days ago does not suggest our superiority because the match was a close affair even though the scoreline indicated otherwise.”
Although KLHC lost the league title, Chiow Chuan feels his players are mentally strong to overcome the setback.
SUNDAY -- TNB CUP FIRST LEG SEMIFINALS: Terengganu Hockey Team v Universiti Kuala Lumpur (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium Pitch II, 8.30pm).
WEDNESDAY: TNB CUP SECOND LEG SEMIFINALS: Tenaga Nasional v Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Universiti Kuala Lumpur v Terengganu Hockey Team (National Stadium Pitch II, 8.30pm).
Sports Journalist with the New Straits Times since 1994.
My main beat is field hockey, so this blog will have stories that I have written for the NST, as well as hockey news from around the globe. There will be regular updates. I was also the Secretary General of the National Press Club, Malaysia for three terms (six years).