KUALA LUMPUR (6 Sept, 2016): Tenaga Nasional Berhad reached the final of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup Knockout Tournament with a quality performance to edge Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) 3-2 in the semifinals at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium today.
It was about the best ever performance from a side that is still struggling at the basement of the TNBMHL 2016 Premier League with just two points from six matches. Both teams played to a 4-4 draw in the first lap of the Premier League two weeks ago.
TNB owed their greatest debt of gratitude, though, to a certain extent to goalkeeper S. Kumar for keeping them in the game as THT could not beat Kumar in 16 of the 17 penalty corners they had and also in field goal attempts.
Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s victory puts them in showdown against Premier League leaders Sapura Hockey Club in the final on September 13 at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium for the RM70,000 prize money.
Sapura defeated Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) 4-1 in the second semifinals in Bandar Penawar after the match was tied 1-1 at half-time. Sapura scored through Joel Samuel van Huizen (18th), Muhd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin (40th), Australian Oscar Williams Wookey (41st) and Muhd Firhan Ashaari (44th). The Johor-based SSTMI, who are currently leading the Division One table standings, replied through Muhd Luqman Hakim Mohd Asri (22nd).
Sarjit Singh’s THT, the double champions last year and equally struggling to get their act together in the Premier League pooled a total of 17 penalty corners against TNB’s five but could only convert in one.
“I told the players to forget about the Premier League as we don’t have much of a chance of winning it and we must at least win one trophy and this is our best chance. I am very happy for the team as the boys gave their best to beat THT in this crucial semifinal,” said TNB head coach Muhamad Amin Rahim.
“It was a gallant performance from every player, especially goalkeeper S. Kumar. He was just everywhere to stop THT and words alone are not enough to express my happiness in this win,” he added.
He added that though TNB lost 1-2 to Sapura in the first and return leg of the Premier League respectively, they are all fired-up to change their fortunes in the final of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup.
THT started the match with key striker Faizal Saari and six of their foreign signings but found TNB in defiant mood. Faizal, who received a red card in the Premier League match against Universiti Kuala Lumpur last week, has been suspended for two matches by the MHC Disciplinary Committee. He will not be eligible to play in Friday’s Premier League match against Maybank and Sunday’s encounter against Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club.
TNB, the only team without foreign players in the league, took the lead twice, only to let THT claw back before Syed Syafiq Cholan scored the winner off a penalty corner attempt with 10 seconds remaining. The final buzzer went off just as the ball sounded the board.
Syed Syafiq had earlier put his side ahead in the 15th minute, while the other goal was scored by Azammi Adabi (22nd). The THT goals were scored by Jang Jung Hyun (21st) and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (42nd).
On Syed Syafiq, the TNB coach said: "He is the most improved player in the TNBMHL, and I believe he has a bright future in the national team provided he keeps pushing himself to the limit in every match."
Results – Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup Semi-finals: Tenaga Nasional Berhad 3 Terengganu Hockey Team 2; Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School 1 Sapura Hockey Club 4.