KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and Tenaga Nasional clash for the overal Premier Division title this weekend knowing that one of them will finally be crowned the undisputed kings of local hockey.
KLHC and Tenaga have won 12 titles each and whoever wins the final at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday will hold the record of having the most number of titles.
So, can KLHC – who bagged their 12th trophy in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) when they won the Premier Division title last month – continue their domination?
Or, can Tenaga – whose 12th trophy came way back in 2009 – stop KLHC and revive their fortunes?
Besides aiming for a record 13th trophy, KLHC also are eyeing their fourth double. They were double champions from 2010 to 2012.
In the semi-finals, KLHC thumped Sapura 11-1 on aggregate while Tenaga beat Maybank 6-4 over the two legs.
For the record, this will be third straight final between the two teams.
And it will also be a showdown between a KLHC team inspired by six foreigners and a Tenaga side brimming with local talents.
KLHC used to be an all-local outfit comprising national players until six of them left to join Terengganu this season. Thus, for the first time, in came six foreigners – Akhtar Ali, Waseem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad, Mohamed Imran, Mohamed Umar Bhutta and Timothy Deavin. They blended in seamlessly and helped KLHC to the Premier Division crown.
Tenaga, meanwhile, have always relied on local players since the inception of the MHL in 1987. Their plus point is in their ability to attract national players and those from the junior ranks.
Individually, KLHC have the better team and have learnt to play well as a unit. Their ability to score under pressure has seen them win matches. At this stage, it is difficult to find a weakness in the team ... unless they take a casual approach to the game or become over-confident.
Even Tenaga coach Nor Azlan Bakar admitted that KLHC are the overwhelming favourites.
He should know as he is familiar with KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj’s style of play. After all, they are both coaching the Project 2013 squad.
“It will be a close match and I have to make sure my players are in the right frame of mind for the final,” said Nor Azlan.
“We have the talent but our biggest problem is our poor finishing. Against KLHC, every miss could come back to haunt us. They have several players who can get the goals and their penalty corner battery is second to none.
“We’re focused on winning the overall title ... our target was to win at least one title this year.”
Tenaga’s Faizal Saari is the joint leading scorer in the MHL with Sapura’s Khasif Ali with 17 goals. But KLHC have top goal-getters in Mohamed Imran, Akhtar Ali, Chua Boon Huat and Mohamed Umar.
The battle lines have been clearly drawn. Now, bring on the teams!