Saturday, March 12, 2011

No advantage for any

CHARITY Shield holders Tenaga Nasional and League champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) have only themselves to blame for a poor show in the first leg of the TNB Cup at the Tun Razak Stadium on Friday.
Tenaga took a 2-0 lead before releasing the grip to allow Sapura to draw level, while KLHC came had to come from behind to secure a slim 2-1 win against Yayasan Negri Sembilan.
And today, all four teams will take to the field again, and there is no advantage for any from the first leg.
YNS Pakistan import Shakeel Abbasi, who played a pivotal role to deny Malaysia a gold medal in the Asian Games, was disappointed with his side's first leg performance.
"We had more than enough chances to beat KLHC, but did not take it. Now we will have to play another gruelling match, and by my reading, we might just upset the formbook," said Shakeel.
YNS finished fifth in the League, while KLHC were the champions. The score in the league highly favoured KLHC as they beat Yayasan 6-3 and 7-2.
"We have a good set of foreign players (nine of them) and our Malaysian players are not the best in the country, but still, they played their hearts out and that is what matters in a team sport," said Shakeel.
KLHC have the lion's share of current and former internationals, as well as Junior World Cup players, but they were a jaded side in the first half.
In the other semi-finals, Sapura are quietly confident that they will play in the final.
"It is back to square one as both sides have no advantage after the first encounter. I feel my players are game to give another rousing performance, as only 70 minutes separate us from the final," said Sapura coach I. Vickneswaran.
Redzuan Ponirin, a former international, will sit out the second leg after picking up a card on Friday and Sapura will miss the work-horse for sure.
But Tenaga have a bigger problem at hand, as their No 1 Penalty corner flicker Amin Rahim will not be able to play for at least another six weeks.
"I tore a tendon, and can hardly walk. The MHL season is over for me, and hopefully I recover in time to play in the Azlan Shah Cup (May 5-15)," lamented Amin Rahim.
Amin's absence is a boon for Junior World Cup eight-goal scorer Faizal Saari. Faizal, who scored the first Tenaga goal against Sapura, will get another chance to consolidate his position as the No 3 penalty corner flicker for Malaysia.
The No 2 is Radzi Rahim, who has been an asset to KLHC in the League.
TODAY: Tenaga Nasional (2) v Sapura (2) (Tun Razak Stadium, 6pm), Yayasan Negri Sembilan (1) v Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (2) (Tun Razak Stadium, 8pm).
# First leg scores in parenthesis.

Negri Under-16 on fire

NEGRI Sembilan were in super form to hammer
Penang 7-2 in Group B of the National Under-16
tournament in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
This was their second high-scoring win, as they
beat Singapore 5-1 on Friday and are now among
the favourites to progress to the knock-our stage.
Negri have deadly goal-scorer in Ikhwan Ishak to
thank, as he scored a hattrick against Penang, to
add to his four goals against Singapore.
Negri opened accounts in the third minute off
Ikwan but two strikes in the fifth and 10th minutes
by Izaidi Ismail and Faridzul Izwan respectively gave
Penang a 2-1 lead.
However, Negri levelled the score when Norhafizi
Aris struck in the 15th minute.
Penang keeper Rafiuddin Dahari kept the Negri
forwards at bay with a string of saves, but he was
soundly beaten when Shabariq Shamsuri scored in
the 48th minute.
And Negri scored at will in the last ten minutes,
off Fakhrul Razi Kunyapu (60th), Ikwan (62nd, 64th)
and Norhafizi (69th).
Kelantan were also impressive in their 4-0
demolition of Terengganu in Group B with skipper
Aminuddin Zain scoring a brace in the 35th and 59th
Safami Sayuti (46th) and Zikrillah Alias (55th)
were also on target as Kelantan also notched up
their second successive win, having beaten Perlis
3-1 on Friday.

P W D L F A Pts
SELANGOR 2 2 0 0 7 2 6
K LUMPUR 1 1 0 0 5 0 3
MALACCA 1 1 0 0 4 1 3
JOHOR 2 0 2 0 3 3 2
PAHANG 2 0 1 1 3 6 1
POLICE 2 0 1 1 2 6 1
SABAH 2 0 0 2 1 7 0

P W D L F A Pts
N SEMBILAN 2 2 0 0 12 3 6
PERAK 2 2 0 0 12 3 6
KELANTAN 2 2 0 0 7 1 6
KEDAH 2 1 1 0 6 2 4
PENANG 2 0 1 1 4 9 1
TERENGGANU 2 0 0 2 3 9 0
PERLIS 2 0 0 2 1 7 0
SINGAPORE 2 0 0 2 1 12 0

RESULTS: Group A -- Selangor 5 Police 1, Johor 2
Pahang 2, Kuala Lumpur 5 Sabah 0.
Group B -- Negri Sembilan 7 Penang 2, Kedah 4
Perlis 0, Kelantan 4 Terengganu 0, Perak 7
Singapore 0.
TODAY: Group A: Selangor v Pahang (7.30am),
Johor v Malacca (Ministry of Education, 8.30pm),
Kuala Lumpur v Police (9am).
Group B: Singapore v Terengganu (15.30pm), Perak
v Penang (5pm), Negri Sembilan v Perlis (6.30pm),
Kedah v Kelantan (8pm).

KLHC sweat for slim advantage

LEAGUE champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) almost paid the price for a scrappy start when they could only beat Yayasan Negri Sembilan (YNS) 2-1 in the first leg semi-final of the TNB Cup at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday.
In the other semi-finals, Charity Shield holders Tenaga Nasional drew 2-2 with Sapura in a highly charged match.
KLHC, who had beaten YNS 6-3 and 7-2 in the League, were a jaded side in the semi-finals, and only started playing after Waqas Sharif, a Pakistan import, scored in the 14th minute.
YNS could have increased the lead a few minutes later when Deepak Thakur and Waqas had only KLHC goalkeeper Khairulnizam Ibrahim to beat, but they failed to click and the ball rolled out tamely.
Former national player Ismail Abu saved the blushes for KLHC when he levelled the score off a field attempt in the 27th minute, and then scored the winner in the 43rd minute.
However, a one-goal cushion is no advantage to KLHC, when both the teams square off again in the return leg on Sunday.
YNS played without former India international Prabhjot Singh, who returned home as his wife is due to deliver a baby, and he is not expected to return for the second leg as well.
"I won't call it a slow start, just that we made too many mistakes in midfield and almost paid the price.
"YNS have shown that they are capable of raising their game, and a one-goal cushion is not enough, but still, we are in the lead," said KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj.
YNS coach Hasnizam Ah Sim said they are still in the running, but should have sealed the match yesterday.
"It was a good start, but a bad finish as my players were eager to score the equaliser in the last 10 minutes of the match and almost let in the third goal.
"However, we still have a fighting chance to play in the final," said Hasnizam.
Meanwhile, Tenaga took their chances well, while Sapura missed numerous sitters in a highly entertaining match.
Faizal Saari got his chance, after national No 1 penalty corner flicker Amin Rahim was sidelined by injury, to hand Tenaga a well deserved lead off a penalty corner attempt in the 13th minute.
Sapura practically camped in Tenaga's circle after that, but brilliant saves from goalkeeper S. Kumar denied them the equaliser.
And in the 54th minute, Faiz Helmi nailed the second goal for Tenaga, but Azreen Rizal pulled one back in the 64th minute for Sapura.
And in the 67th minute, Rodhanizam Radzi scored off a penalty corner rebound to level the score at 2-2, and Tenaga will have to bring out another super show to deny Sapura a spot in the final in the return leg tomorrow.
RESULTS -- Semi-finals (first leg): Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club 2 Yayasan Negri Sembilan 1, Sapura 2 Tenaga Nasional 2.
TOMORROW: Tenaga Nasional v Sapura (Tun Razak Stadium, 6pm), Yayasan Negri Sembilan v Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (Tun Razak Stadium, 8pm).