Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's now of never for E&Y

ERNST & Young team manager George Koshy summed up his team’s chances in the Malaysia Hockey League TNB Cup by saying “It’s now or never.”
The League champions, who won all nine matches com fortably, not only have 12 national players in their fold, but also received a kind draw in the quarter-finals on Dec 5.
Ernst & Young will be playing Division Two runners-up Royal Malay Regiment (RAMD) and it is expected to be a walk in the park, and even in the semi-finals, they only have to contend with wither Nur Isnafi, or Maybank.
Division One runners-up Sapura will have a tougher path, as they meet dark horses Jurulatih dan Jentera (JLJ), aptly nicknamed Lightning Hose, who are the Division Two cham pions.
“We have been bridesmaid for far too long, and with the present batch of players, and a kind draw, we are knocking on the doors of our first Overall (TNB Cup) title,” said Koshy.
Ernst & Young have the distinction of playing in six Overall finals, and it was heart-break each time as they only have silver medals to show.
Their first final appearance was in 2001, and then they made the cut on five consecutive occasions from 2003.
The last two years were especially disappointing, as the gold medals slipped between their fingers on penalty strokes to Sapura and Tenaga Nasional.
“Basically we have the same players from last year, with only two changes. But with the National Juniors playing as a team this season, the other Division One teams are a little ‘diluted’ as they had to source for more experienced players,” said George.
QUARTER-FINALS -- Dec 5: Ernst & Young v Royal Malay Regiment (National Stadium), National Juniors v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium), JLJ v Sapura (Tun Razak Stadium); Dec 10: Nur Insafi v Maybank (Penang).
RETURN LEG -- Dec 7: Royal Malay Regiment v Ernst & Young (Tun Razak), Tenaga Nasional v National Juniors (KLHA), Sapura v JLJ (KLHA); Dec 13: Maybank v Nur Isnafi (Seremban II).

JLJ out for upset, then walkover...

DIVISION TWO champions Jurulatih dan Jentera (JLJ) will be banking on their 19-year-old penalty corner flicker to do the damage against Sapura in the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Hockey League on Dec 5.
But the irony is that, even if they advance to the semi-finals, JLJ will give a walk-over.
“We will give our best in the quarter-finals, with an eye to upset Sapura, but after that, we have a prior arrangement to play in Brunei on Dec 21, which clashes with the semi- finals.
“Even if we advance, we will have to give a walkover,” said JLJ coach Kamaruddin Misman.
Their exciting flicker is Shafiq Yaakob, who has scored 10 goals in eight matches. JLJ also have the distinction of scoring 24 goals, and only conceding nine.
“We were playing at a different level (Division Two), so it will be interesting to see how my boys stand up against the runners-up of Division One (Sapura),” said Kamaruddin.
The coach has been training his charges, with an average age of 25, for the past six months. JLJ were also the champions of the Armed Forces games last month.
“Shafiq has a powerful flick, and his placing is also intelligent. And now he will get a chance to pit his skills against an established goalkeeper (former international Nasihin Nubli).
“My defense has also proven to be solid, but then, we were playing against our peers. I know we will be tested to the limit, but my team is not afraid, instead, they are eager to play in the last eight,” said Kamaruddin.