KUALA LUMPUR: A battle royal is on the cards as league champions Ernst and Young (E&Y) and Tenaga Nasional clash for the overall title in the TNB-Malaysia Hockey League at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
E&Y, who have won the league title, are seeking their first overall title while Tenaga are out to add to their collection of 10 titles so far.
E&Y will feature in their fifth final for the overall title knowing that they have yet to win their last four finals.
Tenaga have won the overall title five times and the league title just as many times. They are also the only team to have clinched the double twice in 1991 and 2003. An impressive record by all accounts.
Maybank have five titles in all and are the second most successful club in the series. They have three overall title and two league crowns.
Thus the meeting today will see if Tenaga can keep up their winning tradition or if the MHL will see a new champion being crowned.
For Ernst and Young victory today would also complete a double – league and overall. Only six teams have won the double. Tenaga (1991 and 2003), Maybank (1994), Yayasan NS (1996), MPPJ (1997), Bank Simpanan Nasional (1999) and Sapura (2005).
Ernst and Young have the opportunity to join them today.
But first their star-studded aside must rise to the occasion and take the fight to Tenaga. They are not short of talented players or potential match winners but they have crumbled in the past when they were given the favourites' tag.
Players like Chua Boon Huat, Zulkifli Rejab, Megat Azrafiq, Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Mohamed Shahrun Nabil, Azlan Misron, Mohamed Soffian Mohamed and Mohamed Razie Rahim will have to come up with a championship winning performance.
Their coach K. Dharmaraj will also need to strategise and try to out-think the Tenaga coach K. Rajan. All this is easier said than done.
Tenaga are masters at the knockout stage. They have been there before and know what it takes to win these kind of matches.
In Rajan they also have a coach who led the teams to the double in 2003.
Tenaga also have experienced hands and youngsters like Kelvinder Singh, S. Selvaraju, Mohamed Sallehin Ghani, S. Bubalan and Baljit Singh to provide the energy.
In goal S. Kumar is still the number one in the country and penalty corner specialist Mohamed Amin Rahim gives them added firepower in their search for goals.
Final matches in the last few years have been close and teams have won by just a one-goal margin. Last year Sapura beat Ernst and Young on penalties.
But it is more likely that the matter will be settled in 70 minutes as both sides have enough calibre players to net in the winner.