Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trouble or smoke screen?

(From left) TNB’s Mohd Sallehin Abd Ghani, KLHC’s Azlan Misron, YNS’s Mohd Harfizi Baharom and Sapura’s S. Kuhan will will play key roles for their respective teams in tomorrow’s first leg semi-finals . — Picture by Fariz Iswadi Ismail

By Ajitpal Singh

YAYASAN Negri Sembilan (YNS) and Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) will both miss key players for tomorrow's first leg semi-finals of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL).
Prabjoth Singh may not be available for YNS' crucial first leg match against Premier Division champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) as the former international has returned to India.
As for TNB, last year's champions may have to do without penalty corner specialist Amin Rahim and former international Tajol Rosli, as both are nursing knee injuries.
It could be a huge blow to TNB as they will be facing a motivated Sapura side, led by Pakistan's Rehan Butt.
YNS manager-cum-coach Hasnizam Ah Sim, who confirmed that Prabjoth is in India, said the striker will likely arrive in time for tomorrow's semi-final.
"We need our best players for the semi-finals as our opponents, KLHC, are the team to beat in the competition," said Hasnizam at TNB headquarters in Bangsar yesterday.
"Our players have blended well together as an effective unit. We intend to give KLHC a tough time."
KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj said his charges need to be cautious as YNS have depth and experience in their side.
"They rely on individual talent to win matches while we count on team work to get results.
"YNS have experienced players as their foreign signings have played in the World Cup and Olympic Games," he said.
Dharmaraj pointed at Shakeel Abbasi, Mohamed Imran, Muhammad Waqas Sharif, Dheepak Thakur and Prabjoth as the most dangerous players in the YNS side.
"We noticed that YNS' play is built around these five players. They are the core players who we must keep an eye on," he added.
Meanwhile, TNB coach Nor Saiful Zaini said Amin and Tajol were both doubtful for tomorrow's first leg match.
"Sapura have been making good progress since the start of the competition and it will be tough for us without our two key players," said Nor Saiful.
Sapura captain S. Kuhan said he and his teammates are focused on getting a good result today.
"The probable absence of Amin and Tajol will not make a big difference as TNB have other good players like goalkeeper S. Kumar, who is difficult to beat on his day.
"Besides Kumar, they have Faizal Saari and M. Kaliswaran, who both are very sharp up front," said Kuhan.