Sapura Hockey Club once again punctuated Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s fiery determination with a 2-1 victory in the final of the TNBMHL 2016 Knockout Tournament for the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup at the Tun Razak Stadium today.
This is the third time that Sapura, who won the RM70,000 winner’s cheque, defeated TNB with a 2-1 margin of victory. They won the first and return legs of the Premier League with similar scores.
Tenaga Nasional Berhad reached the final with a 3-2 win over Terengganu Hockey Team in the semifinals while Sapura outclassed Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) 4-1.
“I must credit my players for their fighting spirit. We were never far away and gave a good fight till the very end. There were too many cards and it affected both teams,” said Sapura coach Yahya Amin. “I hope this is our first step towards winning the Premier League.”
A dejected TNB Coach, Muhamad Amin Rahim, said the signs were clear it was going to be a tough day for his boys when they missed a penalty stroke in first quarter.
“It boils down to not scoring when we had the chances. I am very upset as we could have ended the day on a winning note. It is just not ours,” said Amin, as he sat silently in a corner after the final pondering the fate that befell on them.
It was an uncompromising TNB that ventured bravely into Sapura’s territory more than three times in the first quarter and were rewarded with a penalty corner in the eighth minute.
Drag-flick specialist Syed Mohamad Syafiq Syed Cholan packed through a powerful low push which incidentally struck a defender’s foot and umpire K. Ilango called for a penalty stroke. Unfortunately, Syed Mohamad fumbled from the spot as goalkeeper Mohamad Hairi was under no pressure to thwart the ball.
Sapura, however, showed the pedigree which qualifies them to lead the current Premier League standings on 18 points, and earned their first penalty corner in the 15th minute just seconds before the hooter, and Muhammad Firhan Ashari struck from a penalty corner rebound, leaving goalkeeper S. Kumar out of reach with a low sweep.
TNB earned two penalty corners in the third quarter and made good in one as they leveled score in the 43rd minute with forward Shahril Saabah putting the ball through with a fine push.
But Sapura were determined not to let the opportunity slip and that chance came in the 53rd minute. They owed their greatest debt and gratitude to New Zealander Phillip Ross Burrow as the 36-year-old, who competed in four World Cups and at the 2004 (Athens), 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 London Olympics, was unselfish in the semicircle as he relayed the ball to Dangerouslee Mathew.
Lee, a former national junior trainee from Sarawak, blasted a powerful shot past Kumar that sparked celebrations. It was all over for TNB who fell for the third time against Sapura this season.
Meanhile, two former internationals - Hafifihafiz Hanafi and Megat Azrafiq Megat Termizi - received retirement benefits from Yayasan Hoki Malaysia Trustee Tan Sri P. Alagendra during the half time of the final.
Hafifihafiz, who has 139 international caps having represented the country for 12 years, received RM16,850 while Megat Azrafiq, with a 140 international caps under his belt and 10 years service to the nation, received RM15,500.