KUALA LUMPUR (18th September, 2016): Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) have silenced their critics as they came from behind to lift the TNB Premier Hockey League title after a 3-1 win over Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Terengganu on Sunday.
The win ensures that THT, who had a slow start to the season, retain their title for the third straight time against all odds, after upsets over Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) 2-1 and Sapura (4-1) in their previous two matches that catapulted them top of the league.
At the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Sapura did all they can against Maybank in the hope that THT would draw or lose, but it was not to be their day despite a 2-1 win over Maybank.
Favourites, KLHC, also finished their season in style, as they beat Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) 4-1 at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium but the result counted for very little.
The final table standings sees THT finish top with 22 points, Sapura second with 21 points, KLHC third with 20 points, Maybank fourth with 10 points, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) fifth with seven and TNB last with six.
“This is unexpected, and I have my players to thank. After the first round, they changed things around and worked very hard for three points in every match,” said THT coach Sarjit Singh.
“We were given a second chance and we took it. We didn’t expect KLHC to fumble but they did and we made the most of it. After beating Sapura, the title was there for our taking,” added Sarjit.
And like all true winners, Sarjit now has his eyes on firmly set on defending the TNB Cup that begins next week.
“We will now shift our attention to the TNB Cup. We also want to defend this and make it a double this season,” added Sarjit.
THT went ahead in the fifth minute through a Mohd Fitri Saari penalty stroke and were 2-0 up in the 18th minute when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil netted from a field goal.
They were 3-0 ahead in the 32nd minute thanks to an Ismail Abu field goal before TNB pulled one back through Mohd Ramadan Rosli a minute later.
THT’s South Korean drag-flick specialist, Jang Jonghyun, has emerged top scorer with 10 goals.
Second-placed Sapura took the lead against Maybank in the first minute of the match through India’s Gurbaj Singh’s field goal but Juan Valeriano pulled Maybank level in the 37th.
Phillip Ross Burrows wrapped up the win for Sapura in the 53rd minute from a penalty corner.
KLHC’s win came courtesy of goals from an Umar Bhutta penalty corner (14′) and field goals from Harvinder Singh (37′) Muhd Haziq Samsul (48′) and Pedro Lopez-Alonso (57’) while UniKL’s lone goal came from Daragh James Walsh’s penalty corner in the 24th minute.
Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM-KPT) advanced into the semifinals of the TNBMHL 2016 President’s Cup following a pulsating 3-2 victory on penalty shootout over Ipoh Municipal Council (MBI) at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh today.
In a turn of events, MBI clawed back from the 1-2 first-leg quarterfinal defeat against UiTM-KPT to win 3-2 in this return leg encounter. However, both teams are tied 4-4 on aggregate and it was UiTM-KPT who pulled through on penalty shootout and a place in Wednesday’s semifinals.
UiTM-KPT goals in penalty shootouts were scored by P. Prabahkaran, Muhamad Shahfirul Aqmal and Muhammad Syafiq Zulzairin while Muhammad Najme Ahmad Hayazi and Muhamad Akmal Tajuddin replied for MBI.
In Wednesday’s first-leg semi-finals, TNB Thunderbolt entertains Politeknik Malaysia (6.0pm) and UiTM-KPT takes on Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (8.0pm). The second-leg semifinals will be played on September 23. All matches will be held at the Tun Razak Stadium.
High-riding TNB Thunderbolt, the Division One League champions, crushed Nur Insafi 5-0 in Sungai Petani to go through 8-3 on aggregate while Politeknik Malaysia, who barely made the cut for the President’s Cup after finishing fourth in the league, triumphed 5-1 over Bukit Jalil Sports School for an 8-3 aggregate win.
In the last match of the day played at the Tun Razak Stadium, SSTMI failed to continue where they left off with a 5-2 win in the first-leg as ATM Airod turned the tables on the Bandar Penawar-based sports school to win 2-1 in the return leg quarterfinals match.
Results – Terengganu Hockey Team 3 Tenaga Nasional Berhad 1; Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club 4 Universiti Kuala Lumpur 1; Sapura Hockey Club 2 Maybank 1.
President’s Cup Q-finals 2nd leg (18 Sept, 2016): Nur Insafi 0 TNB Thunderbolt 5 (Thunderbolt won 8-1 on aggregate); MBI 3 UiTM-KPT 2 (Aggregate 4-4; UITM-KPT won 3-2 in penalty shootouts); BJSS 1 Politeknik Malaysia 5 (Politeknik Malaysia won 8-3 on aggregate); ATM Airod 2 SSTMI 1 (SSTMI won 6-4 on aggregate).
Semifinals first-leg (21 September): TNB Thunderbolt v Politeknik Malaysia (6.0pm); UiTM-KPT v SSTMI (8.0pm). All matches at Tun Razak Stadium