Defensive errors in the fourth quarter saw TNB Thunderbolt blow away a two-goal cushion against TunkuMahkota Ismail Sports School before settling with a 3-3 draw in their opening match of the 2016 TNBMHL Division One campaign at the Ministry of Education (MOE) Stadium in Kuala Lumpur today.
In other Division One matches, Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) poured cold water over defending champions Universiti Teknologi MARA-KPT (UiTM) by pulling off a stunning 3-2victory at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, while Penang-based Nur Insafi, captained by Pakistani Abdul Asim Khan, ended 2015 League runners-up ATM Airod’s hopes with a 2-0 win at the Sungai Petani Stadium.
Clearly disillusioned by the defeat, UiTM-KPT lodged a protest after the game citing the failure of MBI as the home team in providing medical services at the venue. A decision on this protest will be decided by the Technical Committee.
A brace from Nur Rahull Hrsikesa Thaitchana Muruthi in the eighth and 60th minutes via field goals gave former Premier League outfit Nur Insafi a resounding start to their campaign.
In the SSTMI-TNB Thunderbolt match, Azhad Akmal Fahmi gave the Johor Sports School the lead in the first minute via a field goal before TNB Thunderbolt, who won the President’s Cup last year, struck back with three goals in the second quarter. Mohamed Idris Samad draw level first from a 20th minute penalty corner before Syarman Mat Tee (25) and Muhammad Hazzim Amin (28th) made it 3-1 from field goals.
Undaunted by the two-goal deficit, SSTMI rallied back with two quick goals within a space of six minutes for the equaliser through forwards Fahmi Zulhelmi (45th) and Mohamad Zulhamizan Awang (51st).
“It was not a good start for us as most of the players were suffering from cramps and fatigue,” said TNB Thunderbolt head coach Nur Saiful Zaini. “Almost all the teams are facing the same problem here having just returned from the Malaysia Games in Sarawak. It has been a hectic week of non-stop hockey for the boys.”
He added that the players will take a break after next weekend’s league matches to compete in the National Schools Championships (MSSM) in Ipoh from August 13-19.
“As TNB is more focused on development, I am assessing players with potential in this league who can go far... those who are good to represent the country in the 2020 Olympics,” added Nur Saiful. “Results don’t matter much to me. It is how they perform from game to game. This is just a start and there is a long way to go.”
SSTMI head coach, Wan Mohamed Roslan, also shared Nur Saiful’s sentiments. He said: “The players need to take a break for full recovery as the Malaysia Games have taken a toll on them. It will take a while before we can see some excitement and good performance.”
Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh strolled to take a 3-0 lead by the third quarter with a brace from Hairul Nizam (4th and 36th) and Mohamed Soffian (20th). UiTM reduced the deficit with field goals from Muhammad Taufik and Mohamed Rahimi Iskandar in the 39th and 49th minutes respectively.
In the women league, last year’s runners-up SSTMI humbled defending champions PKS-Uniten-KPT 3-0 at the MOE pitch in what is seen as a revenge tie following the Johor Sports School 0-1 defeat in the 2015 final.
SSTMI had 11 players from the national senior and development squad while PKS-Uniten-KPT paraded five players. The visitors took a 3-0 lead going into the fourth quarter with goals from Nuraslinda Said (19th), Nurain Hidayah Hasri (36th) and Nurhidayah Ahmad Bokhari (41st).
In the only women’s league match on Sunday, SSTMI will play Politeknik Malaysia at the Bukit Serindit Hockey Stadium in Malacca.
Men’s Division One: TNB Thunderbolt 3 TunkuMahkota Ismail Sports School 3; NurInsafi 2 ATM Airod 0; Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh 3 UITM-KPT 2.
Women’s League:Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School 3 PKS-Uniten-KPT 0.
FIXTURES - Sunday (7 August, 2016) – Men’s Division One: TNB Thunderbolt v Politeknik Malaysia (KLHA Stadium, 6.0pm); BJSS v SSTMI (KPM Pitch, Jalan Pantai, 6.0pm); NurInsafi v UiTM (Sungai Petani Stadium, 5.0pm); Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh v ATM Airod (Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, 6.0pm).
Women’s League:Politeknik Malaysia v SSTMI (Bukit Serindit, Malacca,5.0pm).