Jul 31, 2015


Double champions Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) and Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) are poised to make an impact with a greater bite in the 2015 TNB-Malaysian Hockey League beginning with the Charity Shield at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday.

Coached by K. Dharmaraj, KLHC dominated the TNB-MHL from 2010 to 2013 until THT arrived last season to surprise the four-time champions.

This show of strength between the two giants, however, continues this season with little separating the two clubs who are set to parade an array of foreign stars while the rest of the pack in the six-team league that includes Sapura HC, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL Young Guns), Maybank and Tenaga Nasional Berhad have also fortified their campaign after last year’s hiccups.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Chief Executive Officer, Logan Raj, said the assimilation of Malaysian juniors, seniors and foreign players in the TNB-MHL augurs well in the national body’s search for ‘new blood’ in its transformation exercise towards building a stronger team for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“Our Olympic dream was dealt a bitter blow in Antwerp, Belgium recently and we need to get back on track. We believe the 2015 TNB-MHL will deliver emotionally high level matches between competing teams,” said Logan at the official launch of the TNB-MHL in Kuala Lumpur today.

“The League can only get better with quality players and this will give the juniors and seniors a greater opportunity to play better hockey against strong oppositions,” he said, adding that MHC will also be introducing video referrals during matches.

“This is merely a measure for us to bring the League on to a new platform and familiarise ourselves with the practices currently employed the world around,” he added.

THT and KLHC kick-off the Premier Division of 2015 TNB-MHL League with the Charity Shield match while TNB host Maybank and Sapura HC entertains UniKL in opening matches at the National Hockey Stadium on Sunday.

KLHC have signed the services of six Pakistani players in their 2015 foray - Waseem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad, Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Ali Shan, Muhammad Usman and Ahmad Ajaz.

Of their local flavour KLHC, who have spent big bucks to get their act right this time around, have in their stable penalty corner drag flicker Razie Rahim, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, defender ShukriMutalib and midfielder Nabil Fiqri.

THT coach Sarjit Singh, however, has his options open far wider with Argentineans Pablo Javier Trevisan, Nicolas Cicileo, Jose Leandro Tolini and IgnicioQuilez in the side which also includes Pakistan’s Ahmad Shakeel Butt. This is the first time Argentineans will feature in the MHL since its inception in 1978.

And to add more bite, the Terengganu outfit have seven national players to complement their foreign strength as they defend their league and overall title. They are goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman, defender AzlanMisron, midfielders Shahrun Nabil and FitriSaari and forwards FaizalSaari, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and FirhanAshaari.

As for UniKL Young Guns, they are certainly aiming for a semi-finals spot with coach Arul Selvaraj drawing inspiration on the experience of HaziqSamsul, Baljit Singh, IzwanFirdaus and MeorAzuan who featured in the World League Semi-finals in Antwerp. Their foreign signings are Richard Sykes, Patrick Neil Schultz and Jethro Ray Eustice.

The Project 2016 coach has 10 players from the Junior World Cup trainees squad enlisted into UniKL. They are Sufi Ismat, ZulPidausMizun, Maxhans Christi, AshranHamsani, AzwarRahman, NajmiFarizal, Nor Azrul and Ezry Mustafa.

Except for TNB, coached by Nor SaifulZaini, who will once again rely on local talents, Sapura and Maybank have entered the fray with several foreign Pakistan signings.

National coach Tai Beng Hai has named Khasif Ali, Muhammad Imran, Abdul Haseem Khan and Mohamad AzfarYaqoob to lead Sapura’s attack, Maybank will also add something in the form of Imran Butt, Muhammad Irfan, Muhammad Toseeq, Muhammad Waqas and India’s Deepanshu Bhargav.

It is going to be a remarkably euphoric 2015 TNB-MHL season for fans!

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