A Sapura-Tenaga final


BY S. RAMAGURU

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional and Sapura yesterday rode on their victories in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) first-leg semi-final to qualify for the final, which will be played at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Sunday. 

In the return leg semi-finals, league champions Tenaga came out with a 2-2 draw against Maybank at the Tun Razak Stadium to advance 7-4 on aggregate. 

Sapura were beaten 0-1 by Ernst and Young at the KL Hockey Stadium but made it 3-2 on aggregate. 

Two Tenaga players were injured yesterday. Skipper Nor Azlan Bakar had to leave the field in the 14th minute with a back injury and is a doubtful starter for the final. Soon after, young forward S. Selvaraju followed suit with a hand injury after tripping over a player. 

Maybank led Tenaga twice with Suhaimi Ibrahim, who missed the first leg match because of suspension, getting the goals in the 16th and 31st minutes off penalty corners. 

SURROUNDED: Ernst & Young's Chua Boon Huat trying to get past four Sapura players (from left) S. Kuhan, P. Prabahkaran, K. Keevan Raj and Jiwa Mohan during their MHL second leg semi-final match at the KL Hockey Stadium Thursday. Ernst & Young won the match 1-0 but Sapura went through to a final meeting with Tenaga on a 3-2 aggregate. - STARpic by S.S. Kanesan

On both occasions, Norazlan Rahim put Tenaga back on level terms with a field goal in the 22nd minute and a penalty stroke conversion in the 61st minute. 

At very determined Ernst and Young put Sapura under a lot of pressure and even fielded their injured skipper Mirnawan Nawawi. 

Ernst and Young forced six penalty corners and Sapura were fortunate to concede only one goal to Len Aiyappa in the 25th minute. Aiyappa is the top scorer in the tournament and he now has 34 goals to his credit. 

Sapura coach M.A. Sambu said that they made it hard on themselves but felt that the team played well as a unit to pull through. 

“We finally made it to the final in our third attempt. It was touch-and-go but our defensive work against penalty corners worked well. The players gave a determined performance and it was a good team effort today,” said Sambu. 

Ernst and Young’s coach K. Dharmaraj said they only had themselves to blame for missing the cut. 

“We had the penalty corners to get the goals but only managed to convert one. We are at our strongest in penalty corners but the scoring touch deserted us when it mattered most,” he said. 

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