KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu clinched their first Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) title in style by thrashing Sapura 9-2 in front of their home fans at the Kuala Terengganu Hockey Stadium.
The star-studded team showed their intent by snatching a 7-1 lead in the first half.
But it was Sapura who drew first blood when Faridzul Afiq scored after only three minutes.
The setback, however, failed to dampen Terengganu’s spirits as they quickly went 2-1 up with goals by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (eighth) and Mohd Fitri Saari (ninth).
A two-minute blitz starting from the 14th saw the home side netting four more goals through Faizal Saari, Firhan Ashaari, Ismail Abu and Seo Jong-ho.
Sobirin Lias scored goal No. 7 just before the half-time whistle.
Sapura managed to add another consolation goal as Khasif Ali converted a penalty corner in the 38th minute.
Terengganu managed to net two more goals through Firhan (49th) and Jong-ho (52nd) to seal the victory. In total, Terengganu netted a staggering 51 goals in 10 matches. They won nine matches to collect 27 points, three more than second-placed Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC).
Terengganu coach Sarjit Singh said there was never any doubt that they would emerge as the Premier Division champions.
“The players worked hard and this title is a reward for them. I am happy to be their coach,” said Sarjit.
Terengganu Hockey Association president Datuk Wan Ahmad Nizam Wan Abdul Hamid dedicated the title to the people of Terengganu.
“It is good to see the locals supporting hockey. Hopefully more fans will realise that hockey is also a good sport, not just football,” said Wan Ahmad Nizam.
Defending champions KLHC ended their campaign on a losing note as Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) whipped them 5-1.
KLHC went into the match knowing that they had an impossible task of pipping Terengganu to the title. Terengganu were already 6-1 up in Kuala Terengganu when KLHC took to the pitch at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
UniKl took a two-goal lead through Dedi Aryadi (seventh) and Phillip Stahr (19th). KLHC replied in the 21st minute through defender Mohamed Razie Rahim to trail 1-2 at half-time.
UniKL added three more goals after the breather through Mohamed Haziq Shamsul (57th), Stahr (59th) and Sufi Ismat (60th) for a big win.
In another match, Tenaga Nasional drew 3-3 with winless Maybank to finish third place with 13 points.
KLHC and Terengganu are seeded in the knockout stage and will go straight into the semi-final stage. The other four teams will take part in the playoffs to decide the other two semi-finalists.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) will hold an open draw tomorrow to decide the playoff fixtures. The matches will be played on a home and away format on Friday and Sunday. All matches will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.