Universiti Kuala Lumpur dispatched Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) 4-2 and tightened their grip on the 2019 Malaysian Hockey Premier League title.
Arul Selvaraj’s UniKL, who won the first round of the encounter 3-1 against Nor Saiful Zaini’s TNB, came back strongly in the second half with three goals to triumph and in the process consolidated their position at the top of the pool with 25 points from nine matches.
TNB are now in second spot with 21 points after nine matches and face an uphill task of realising their hopes with three matches remaining. Maybank moved up to third spot with 16 points and Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) in fourth position (15 points).
Charity Shield winner THT defeated Nur Insafi 5-3 today while Maybank edged TNB Thunderbolts 2-1.
“Credit to TNB for dominating much of the first half against us and I believe our foreign players turned the game around for us. Their experience made a lot of difference and together with our national players we managed to win,” said UniKL coach Arul.
“I am very impressed with some of our junior players especially Ashran who has been with the team for the last seven years and is playing exceptionally well.”
A dejected Nor Saiful, said: “I have given up hope of winning the title. We will focus on finishing second as UniKL are just too good and a powerful team and they will go all the way to win the title.”
“The difference in today’s match is experience. We had lots of chances in the second quarter but UniKL had the experience to turn the game around,” he said.
It was UniKL that fired the first salvo with a 10th minute field goal through Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin following a goalmouth melee but TNB were simply electrifying as they charged back with Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil restoring parity in the 15th minute with a reverse stick shot from the left that sailed past goalkeeper David Harte.
UniKL, however, were taken to task by TNB three minute into the second quarter with just nine players on the field after Australian Kieran Givers and Dutchman Robbert Kemperman were sent off for offences.
In a quick counter attack, TNB earned their first penalty corner and Norshafiq Sumantri made no mistake with a push past Harte to extend their lead 2-1 in the 20th minute.
The second half got off to another roaring fashion by both teams but it was just a tale of near misses until UniKL’s search for the equaliser was answered in the 43rd minute.
Drag-flick specialist Razie Rahim calmly converted by placing the ball past goalkeeper S. Kumar to level 2-2, Govers extended the lead 3-2 in the 47th minute with field goal and Mohamed Asran Hamsani made it 4-2 in the 55th in a similar strike.
UniKL’s remaining matches are against Nur Insafi (17 February), Maybank (20 February) and wrap up the Premier League fixture against TNB Thunderbolt on February 22.