Kuala Lumpur (12 February, 2017): Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) threw the spanner into Terengganu Hockey Team’s aspiration of taking top spot in the TNBMHL 2017 Premier League following a 2-2 draw at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium today.
And they owe it to their Argentinean goalkeeper Thomas Santiago Salas who displayed great skills and courage to save at least three certain goals.
It was a fighting display by the University lads who clawed back twice to hold double champions THT to this draw and in the process enhanced their own chances of staying ahead of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) in the chase for a top-four finish. UniKL have 23 points from 11 matches and TNB 21 after defeating UiTM-KPT 6-1 at the Tun Razak Stadium.
Muhammad Shahril Saabah and Norsyafiq Sumantri scored two goals each for TNB whilst Syed Mohamed Syafiq Syed Cholan and Muhammad Zulhamizan Awang added a piece. UiTM replied through Ephraums Joshua Pieter in the 55th minute via a penalty stroke.
KLHC edged THT to the top spot with a two-point advantage after defeating Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School 5-1 in Bandar Penawar. KLHC amassed 29 points and THT 27 with three more matches to go in the league.
An elated UniKL coach A. Arul Selvaraj, said: “They (THT) played well and we could have beaten them had we been sharper. We have crucial matches coming up next week and based on the performance I believe we can achieve our top-four target.
‘Tommy was great in between the posts today and that inspired all the players. Special mention goes to Marhan Jalil who kept the players going. His captaincy has been great. But we need to remain focussed for the final three matches, all which are tough.”
THT needed a win to remain as table toppers while UniKL were looking for one point to secure their target of a top four finish.
Thus it was a rather cautious start from both teams. THT were awarded nine penalty corners but Korean JangJong Hyun, who had 19 goals to his credit so far, failed to make any count.
And on the other end Pakistani Muhammad Aleem Bilal almost scored from their solitary penalty corner in the first half. THT took the lead in the 23rd minute when Jang converted a penalty stroke But barely a minute later UniKL were on level terms through Mohammad Tousiq.
Their joy was however short lived as Fitri Saari sneaked in a goal barely seconds from halftime to give the east coach side a 2-1 lead.
THT wasted another two penalty corners but Najmi Farizal Jazlan made good of theirs in the 47th minute to draw level. The visitors made a final push in the last few seconds and even made a claim for a penalty corner but their request was denied by the match umpire.
THT head coach, Sarjit Singh, observed: “At this stage of the tournament we must have video referrals. It is very important. THT played a good game and our aim is to win today’s match. We have three more tough matches to go and to retain the title we must go all out to win.”
“This is the first time in the tournament we did not score from penalty corners. Jang has scored 19 goals and today was just not his day having earned nine penalty corners. But I believe he will come back in the next games,” added Sarjit.
KLHC grabbed a 3-0 lead by the 22nd minute against SSTMI with goals from Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof (2nd minute), Muhammad Nur Asyraf Ishak (8th) and Anton Poul Fritz Ebeling (22nd) before SSTMI pulled one back from Muhammad Lukman Hakim (4rd) whilst Mohd Syamim scored his second goal in the 50th and Muhammad Haziq Samsul made it 5-1 for KLHC with a 59th minute field goal.
Maybank pooled 13 points – five behind Tenaga Nasional Berhad following a 4-1 win over TNB Thunderbolts at the Bukit Serindit Hockey Stadium. Maybank’s remaining matches are against UniKL (Feb 15), THT (Feb 17) and conclude their league matches against UiTM-KPT (Feb 19).
Results – Premier League: Universiti Kuala Lumpur 2 Terengganu Hockey Team 2; Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School 1 Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club 5; Maybank 4 TNB Thunderbolts 1; UiTM-KPT 1 Tenaga Nasional Berhad 6.
Wednesday (15 February, 2017): Terengganu Hockey Team v TNB Thunderbolts (Stadium Hoki Batu Buruk, Kuala Terengganu, 5pm); KLHA v Tenaga Nasional Berhad (KLHA Stadium, 6pm); Universiti Kuala Lumpur v Maybank (KLHA Stadium, 8pm); UiTM v SSTMI (Stadium Tun Razak, 8pm).
Women’s League: Kulim 2 Johor Bahru District HA 0; Blue Warriors 1 PKS-Uniten-KPT 2; SSTMI 0 Terengganu Ladies Hockey Team 5.