KUALA LUMPUR (16th September, 2016): Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) blew a great chance to go top of the TNB Malaysian Premier Hockey League when they succumbed to a 2-1 loss at the hands of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium in Jalan Pantain on Friday.
Instead, Terengganu Hockey Team (TNT), who have had a quiet season, now sit in top spot following a 4-1 win over Sapura Hockey Club at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Terengganu, will take the crown should they defeat TNB on Sunday at the same venue.
In Bukit Serindit, Malacca, Maybank edged UniKL thanks to a N. Namasivayam penalty corner in the 29th minute.
With one match to play, Terengganu have 19 points, Sapura are second on 18, KLHC third on 17, Maybank are fourth on 10, UniKL have seven while TNB remain bottom with six points.
THT’s South Korean drag-flick specialist Jang Jonghyun extended his lead atop the top scorers list when he put away three more penalty corners (sixth, 10th and 24th) to bring his tally to 10 so far in the tournament.
Faizal Saari added a fourth, also from a penalty corner, in the 48th minute to make it 4-0 while Sapura’s solitary goal was netted by Muhammad Firhan Ashari in the 59th minute.
THT coach Sarjit Singh was proud of his boys and the performance they put in to beat Sapura.
“For me, we played the best game of this season to beat Sapura and top the standings for the first time this season. And with Tenaga Nasional pulling off a big upset against KLHC, from outsiders, we now have a chance to defend our League title.
“My players, for sure, will not want to let this golden chance slip away from our grip,” said THT coach Sarjit Singh.
KLHC immediately went on the offensive from the get go and earned a penalty corner in the second minute, but could not put away the opportunity as TNB goalkeeper S. Kumar pulled off a brilliant save to keep the ball out.
But like in earlier matches, KLHC begin to stutter when they fail to get an early goal to calm their nerves.
And this showed as TNB began to assert themselves into the match.
KLHC had a great chance to take the lead in the 17th minute if not for the exploits of Kumar who pulled off two superb saves, first from Mohd Symim Mohd Yusof and then from Dutchman Jelte van Gennip who pounced on the loose ball.
TNB had a chance of their own to take the lead a minute later when a pass from midfield found Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi alone with acres of space, but his shot was kicked out by KLHC goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin.
In the second half TNB’s confidence grew and in the 35th minute but Muhd Hafizhuddin Zaidi’s shot went just wide.
But they were not to be denied in the 52nd minute, when on the counter attack, Arif Sabron’s initial shot was saved by Roslan in goal, but Muhd Hafizhuddin was there to pounce on the loose ball to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later TNB were 2-0 up when Nik Mohammad Ahmad Nik Rozemi, in a one-on-one against Roslan, cooly rounded him to score and then did a Olympics 100m and World champion Usain Bolt pose to celebrate.
KLHC, with their title hopes taken a step backwards, pulled one back from a penalty corner through Mohd Symim in the 58th minute, but it was a little too late.
Tenaga coach Amin Rahim, said: “We played for pride as we had not won in the last eight matches. There was no element of trying to deny KLHC a shot at the title, it was just that we had our pride to keep intact.”
And Amin said his players will do the same against THT on Sunday.
“Even though we are virtually out of the running for the TNB Cup semi-finals, we will still give our very best against THT in our final League match of the season.
“We have nothing against THT and their quest to defend their League title, but we will again play for pride and end our League season with another win,” added Amin
RESULTS – Premier League: Maybank 1 Universiti Kuala Lumpur 0; Tenaga Nasional Berhad 2 Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club 0; Terengganu Hockey Team 4 Sapura Hockey Club1.
FIXTURES – Premier League (18 Sept): Terengganu Hockey Team v Tenaga Nasional Berhad (6pm, Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium); Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v Universiti Kuala Lumpur (6pm, Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium); Sapura Hockey Club v Maybank (6pm, Tun Razak Hockey Stadium).