KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Kuala Lumpur and New South Wales Institute of Sports (NSWIS) qualified for the final of the National Under-21 hockey tournament in contrasting fashion at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil here yesterday.
KL had to pull out all the stops to defeat a fighting Pahang 3-1 while the Aussies, who are playing in the tournament for the first time, romped to a 10-2 win over Perak in the semi-final matches yesterday.
The first half of the match between KL and Pahang was evenly contested for the first 30 minutes. Both sides had a penalty corner each and at least two shots at goal but all in vain.
KL, who have internationals Azlan Misron and Tajol Rosli and several national juniors in their ranks, broke the duck in the 31st minute. Skipper Azlan found space on the right to collect a free hit taken by Tajol and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Khairul Nizam.
Mohd Zulkifli Abdullah equalised for Pahang with a field goal in the 48th minute. The Pahang players went defensive and it put KL back in the game.
Mohd Redza Maadun was the hero for KL, scoring the important second goal in the 58th minute and setting up Kamaruddin Abdul Rahman for the third in the 65th minute.
Khairul completely misjudged Redza's hit and was caught flat-footed when the ball rolled in. This broke the Pahang spirit and they paid the price for not marking their man. Redza beat three defenders and on entering the D squared the ball for Kamaruddin to slot in.
KL coach Nor Saiful Zaini said: “It was not an easy match and Pahang had several chances. I have to give credit to my team for keeping cool under pressure. We can expect a tougher game in the final against the Australians. We hope that we will be able to keep the Cup in the country.”
Pahang coach Izwan Suhardy said that his players were too cautious in the first half.
The NSWIS-Perak semi-final was a mismatch. The aggressive Australians were definitely much superior and were five goals up after 12 minutes.
They shot in front in the first minute with a penalty corner conversion by Brendan Booth. Dane Petit and Eli Matheson followed up with goals in the sixth and eight minutes respectively before Joel Reeves’ brace in the 10th and 12th minutes.
Petit got his second goal in the 23rd minute. The other scorers were Alex Hardman (38th, 44th), Mathew Naylor (46th) and Dany Booth (68th).
Perak got their goals through Mohamed Ridman in the 58th and 65th minutes.
Semi-finals: Kuala Lumpur 3 Pahang 1, NSWIS 10 Perak 2.
Classification: Selangor 2 Singapore 3, Kelantan w.o. Penang, Johor 2 Negri Sembilan 1, Perlis 1 Malacca 3.