TNB end UniKL hopes to march into final

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Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) ended Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s (UniKL) campaign in the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup knockout tournament following a 3-0 victory in the semi-finals stage at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Arul Selvaraj’s UniKL had raised hopes of qualifying for the final after registering an easy 4-1 victory over TNB Thunderbolts on Thursday. But the script changed dramatically today as TNB, led by 10 national players, ran around in circles to score three goals in an eight-minute blitz.

TNB’s opponent in the final will be either Maybank or Terengganu Hockey Team who are involved in the second semi-finals clash.

Devoid of five of their foreign signings who will only arrive early next week, there was little UniKL captain Marhan Mohd Jalil, defender Sukri Abdul Mutalib, drag-flick specialist Razie Abdul Rahim or Australian midfielder Timothy Deavin and goalkeeper Adrian Andy Albert could do to stop the marauding TNB forwards.

The first quarter was a nail-biting experience for both teams who went on the hunt for early goals. And in all fairness, it was TNB who dominated proceedings in this semi-finals encounter.

TNB found the net first through Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin from a solo effort at the top of the circle but the goal was disallowed as the ball had earlier struck Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin’s legs.

After a hard-fought first quarter, TNB went ahead in 24th minute through Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan via a penalty corner conversion, Mohd Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal extended the lead two minutes later from a field goal and Firhan Ashaari notched the third in the 32nd minute from similar fashion.

“Today we played against 10 World Cup players. TNB have quality players and were fast on the attack. On the other hand we had only 14 players. In the first and second quarter we tried to control the game but in the third and fourth quarters the players were tired. The legs were getting weaker. It’s is hard to play with just 14 players,” said Arul, adding that this kind of situation is difficult for high-level hockey.

“But fairplay to TNB as they deserve this win. We will now focus on the League with the Charity Shield match on Jan 11. Our plan to use this Alagendra tournament is to give the local plauyers the opportunity to feel the situation and we now await our foreign signings.”

TNB head coach Nor Saiful Zaini said he is satisfied with the performance of his players against UniKL but added the tempo could be very much different in the final if they are to face THT.

TNB sekat UniKL untuk mara ke final

Misi kelab Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) untuk menjulang gelaran Piala Tan Sri P Alagendra tidak menjadi kenyataan apabila kecundang di tangan Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) 3-0 dalam aksi separuh akhir di Stadium Hoki Nasional Bukit Jalil, hari ini.

Ternyata ketiadaan lima pemain import – penjaga gol David Harte, Valentin Verga serta Robbert Kemperman (tengah),  Martijn Havenga (pertahanan) dan Kieran Govers (penyerang) – yang belum tiba menjejaskan rentak permainan UniKL.

Situasi itu memaksa skuad juara Piala TNB musim lalu itu beraksi dengan 14 pemain sepanjang 60 minit perlawanan susulan kecederaan yang turut menimpa pertahanan kanannya Shazril Imran Nazli sekali gus menyukarkan keadaan.

Bagaimanapun jurulatih UniKL, Arul Selvaraj, berkata pasukannya menerima kekalahan itu dengan sikap terbuka apatah lagi TNB sememangnya turun sebagai pasukan pilihan apabila diperkuatkan 10 pemain kebangsaan yang beraksi di Piala Dunia 2018.

“Kami kalah kepada pasukan yang lebih kuat dan mempunyai 10 pemain kebangsaan, sukar untuk kami menandingi TNB kerana mereka memiliki skuad yang pantas dan lincah sekali gus sukar bagi kami membendung serangan mereka.

“Malah, kami hanya mendaftar tiga pemain simpanan saja berbanding mereka yang menurunkan skuad penuh selain turut terpaksa melupakan khidmat pertahanan (Shazril) yang masih cedera.

“Walaubagaimanapun saya tetap menaruh keyakinan dengan peluang kami di Liga Premier nanti kerana waktu itu pemain import kami sudah tiba dan semestinya kehadiran mereka mampu meningkatkan struktur pasukan,” katanya

Dalam aksi tersebut, UniKL lebih mendominasi aksi suku pertama selain lebih banyak merakamkan percubaan ke gol, namun TNB terlebih dulu di depan apabila pukulan kilas Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Ab Jalil hasil larian solo daripada sebelah kanan berjaya menembusi gawang dikawal Adrian Andy Albert.

Bagaimanapun, jaringan itu dibatalkan pengadil K Illango selepas menyedari bola terlebih dulu terkena kaki Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin ketika dia mahu mengutip bola hantaran rakan sepasukan di luar kotak penalti.

Bersambung suku kedua, UniKL yang mula kepenatan akibat kekurangan pemain dikejutkan dengan jaringan pembukaan pakar pukulan sudut penalti TNB, Syed Syafiq Syed Cholan pada minit ke-24.

Pukulan menariknya itu gagal dibaca kemas pelari kedua UniKL untuk Syed Syafiq menolak bola deras ke penjuru kiri gawang Adrian dengan bola itu turut hampir mengenai kepala pertahanan Sukri Mutalib.

Selang dua minit kemudian, tiba giliran pemain sayap muda Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal menggandakan kedudukan buat TNB apabila dia bijak memanfaatkan keadaan kelam-kabut di dalam kawasan D UniKL untuk menolak kemas ke dalam gol.

Tersentak dengan jaringan itu, UniKL yang ketinggalan 2-0 meningkatkan asakan tetapi setiap gerakan bahagian tengah yang cuba direncanakan kapten Marhan Mohd Jalil dan Ashran Hamsani mudah dipatahkan pertahanan TNB gara-gara kegagalan jentera serangan membaca setiap hantaran dengan situasi sama berlarutan hingga ke suku ketiga.

Penyerang TNB, Firhan Ashari akhirnya memadamkan sisa kebangkitan skuad kendalian Arul apabila percubaannya pada minit ke-32 memastikan pasukannya meraih kemenangan 3-0 sekali gus layak ke pentas final.

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