Wednesday, October 19, 2011

KLHC seal final slot

(From left) Nabil Fiqri, Azlan Misron and tengku Ahmad Tajuddin celebrate scoring KLHC’s second goal against Maybank in a TNB Cup match at the National Hockey Stadium yesterday. KLHC won 6-1. — Picture by Supian Ahmad

By Ajitpal Singh

DEFENDING champions Kuala Lumpur HC (KLHC) have virtually qualified for the TNB Cup final after a convincing 6-1 victory over Maybank in the semi-final first leg at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In the other match, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) hammered in four goals in the opening 15 minutes to beat Sapura 5-3.
KLHC, led by nine national players, unleashed their fury by finding the back of the net six times with Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddi Abdul Jalil opening the floodgates in the 10th and 12th minutes.
But Maybank's Hafifihafiz Hanafi reduced the deficit with a fine reverse stick goal in the 29th minute.
Maybank's initial dominance in the second half turned into tatters as former international Chua Boon Huat added the third in the 43rd minute for a 3-1 lead.
KLHC turned on the heat in the final 10 minutes with three goals through Muhd Amerullah Abd Aziz 961st), Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (66th) and Ismail Abu (70th).
"We went for early goals and scored two in the opening minutes which forced Maybank to ditch their defensive approach," said KLHC team manager George Koshy yesterday.
"It is a good lead to take into the second leg but nothing can be considered a certainty as there are still 70 minutes to be played."
RESULTS -- KLHC 6 Maybank 1, TNB 5 Sapura 3.
FIXTURES -- Tomorrow: S-Finals (2nd leg): Sapura v TNB (6pm), Maybank v KLHC (8pm). -- Matches at the National Hockey Stadium (Pitch Two) in Bukit Jalil.

TNB eager for revenge

Sapura’s S. Kuhan (left) is tackled by KLHC’s Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Jalil during their league match recently.

By Ajitpal Singh

BITTER rivals Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) and Sapura will face off in the TNB Cup semi-finals with the former gunning for revenge for last year's defeat at the same stage.
In last year's semi-finals, Sapura defeated TNB 4-2 on aggregate before going down to Kuala Lumpur HC (KLHC) in the final.
TNB coach Lailin Abu Hassan is very aware that Sapura can come out tops once again despite not having their captain S. Kuhan in the line-up due to a two-match suspension in today's first leg at the National Hockey Stadium (Pitch Two) in Bukit Jalil.
TNB, the 2009 champions, have a star-studded line-up with no injury problems while Sapura, who can only register 17 players for the match due to Kuhan's suspension, will be handicapped with injuries.
Sapura's Azreen Rizal Nasir, Redzuan Ponirin, Faisal Kamaruddin, Craig Joseph Fernandez and Norhanafpe Omar are all doubtful starters.
"We are expected to win as we had beaten them in the league. But it is a different ball game in the semi-finals so we need to be careful," said Lailin.
"We need to play consistently and score a few goals in the first leg to avoid unnecessary pressure in the return leg. Sapura have been inconsistent of late but that does not mean they can be beaten.
"My players are motivated and determined to avenge last year's semi-final defeat but to do that they need to be focused and play to strategy in both legs."
Sapura coach I. Vikneswaran said TNB have a good mix of experience and youth with a backline comprising players from the national team.
"We are a depleted side but having done some adjustments to our midfield and defence, I believe we can match them. The absence of Kuhan will also motivate us to lift our game," said Vikneswaran.
"TNB have the edge but we have a surprise in store. We just have to find a way past their backline which will not be easy as they virtually have the national defence."
The other semi-final is between league champions KLHC and Maybank.