Sep 18, 2015

It’s a THT and KLHC final again!

Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) once again qualified for the final of the TNB Cup 2015 following a 7-2 victory (aggregate 10-7) over Maybank in the second-leg semifinals at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The double champions go into Sunday’s finale against five-time champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club. KLHC had earlier defeated Sapura 2-1 (aggregate 8-1) to confirm their ticket in the final.

Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin opened the flood gates for THT with penalty corner goals in the second and eighth minutes before Argentinean Jose Leandro Tolini added the third in similar fashion one minute later which greatly impressed their fans.

Maybank, riding high on confidence as they trooped onto the field following the 5-3 win over THT in the first-leg semifinals on Tuesday, were a spent force as Faizal Saari knocked home the fourth goal and his 16th in the tournament from a field goal three minutes into the third quarter.

More goals from Firhan Ashari (45th), Nicolas Cicileo (48th) and Faizal(51st) further eroded Maybank’s chances of an upset win over the east coast giants.

This is the second time Maybank went down in the semi-finals stage against THT by a big margin defeat. In 2014, Maybank won the first-leg tie 3-2 in Kuala Terengganu but suffered a humiliating 6-1 loss in the return match at the National Hockey Stadium. 

“We knew we can bounce back. We have the players to take us to the final. Once we got the first two goals Maybank needed to come out and we made good use in the counter attacks,”said THT head coach Sarjit Singh at a post-match press conference.

“As for the final, I strongly believe we have the chance to win the double again but it won’t be easy as KLHC have been playing well since losing the Premier League title,” he added.

He added that all the players are free of any injury for the final.

Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club held back the best part of their game plan against Sapura and settled for a drab 2-1 victory to move into the final.This will be K. Dharmaraj’s 15th final in the last 17 years as coach of the club which was first known as Arthur Andersen and then Ernst & Young.

“In the first-leg we went looking for goals and we know that the second leg will be difficult if the score in the first game was close. In today’s match we just tried to maintain our lead so that we don’t waste a lot of energy,” said Dharmaraj, who had lost in nine finals and won five.

“Whichever team we play in the final will be the same. The TNB Cup is a different ball game and what is important is if my team can perform in the final,” he added.

Pakistani Muhammad Imran took just nine minutes into the game to put Sapura ahead from a penalty corner while Razie Rahim equalised for KLHC before the conclusion of the first quarter and Ali Shan wrapped up the game with the winning goal in the 52nd minute.

Sapura’s coach Tai Beng Hai, however, laments his side’s defeat to an exhaustive fixture in the quarterfinals and semifinals stages which had virtually drained his players both physically and mentally.

“For a start we had to play two quarterfinals games and one semifinal. We played three tough matches in five days. It took a toll on my players. Today we played well but could not go any further,” said Beng Hai.

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