Shahril Saabah scored a brace to pluck Kuala Lumpur out of trouble waters and a chance of advancing to the semi-finals of the TNB 53rd Tun Abdul Razak Cup Division One tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The National junior forward struck in the eighth and 34th minutes from penalty corners after Marhan Jalil had equalised for Negeri Sembilan in the 26th minute.
However, the door to Saturday’s semi-finals from Group B remains wide with equal opportunities for 19-time champions KL, Johor and Pahang.
Johor, down 2-3 by the third quarter against Pahang, rose to the occasion to crush their neighbours 4-3 and in the process lifted their own hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Johor and Kuala Lumpur are tied with four points each while Pahang have three points to show. Negri Sembilan is virtually without any hope having lost two matches.
K. Dharmaraj’s boys go into a head on collision with Pahang in the last group match tomorrow which proves vital for both teams while Johor host Negeri Sembilan.
A Pahang victory will take them straight into the semi-finals, leaving KL on the sidelines again, while all Johor need to do is settle for a draw against Negeri. However, a win would definitely put them in a far comfortable position over Pahang or KL.
In Group A, the door is slightly ajar for Terengganu and Malacca although defending champions Perak are through having amassed six points from two wins.
Just who will join Perak into the last four will be a toss between Faizal Saari’s Terengganu and Malacca as both teams have three points each. Terengganu face a tough mission against Perak tomorrow while Malacca seems to have an easier opponent in the form of Penang.
In Division Two, Police continued their juggernaut to go top of the table standings with 13 points following a 6-3 win over Kedah.
Penalty corner specialist Baljit Singh scored a brace (7th, 9th) to take his personal goal tally to 10 in the tournament after Azreen Rizal Nasir kept Police in the lead with a third minute field goal. Wee Lorence (14th and 42nd) and Mohd Naim Ibahim hammered the final nail into Kedah.
Kedah’s goals came from Nor Hrsikesa Thaitchana (28th, PC) and V. Saravanan (36th and 44th, FG).
Kelantan stepped out of their lethargic opening act in the tournament to torment Armed Forces 3-2 today.
After suffering a 3-5 defeat against Police last Friday, Kelantan have been making steady progress by drubbing cannon fodder Sarawak 6-0, edged Perlis 3-2 and capped another memorable day by brushing aside the soldiers in a come-from-behind victory.
Mohamed Tajol Harastu shot Armed Forces ahead with a 11th minute penalty corner goal before Mohd Faizal Md Daud earned the equaliser from a field goal in the 23rd minute.
The soldiers, who have won two matches and drew one so far, were back on top with an Ahmad Ridhwan Zainal Abidin 25th minute field goal. But that was as far as they could march on as Kelantan clawed back to hold Forces to a 2-2 draw first through Mohd Aminuddin Zin (33rd, PC) and then Shahrul Anuar Ibrahim sealed victory with a 58th minute field goal.
Selangor, who won the Razak Cup for a record 10 times, burrowed through the Sarawak defence with ease to record a 9-0 win with goals from Mohd Redza Maadun (24th, 53rd, FG); Nor Nasriq Farhan (27th, FG), Abdul Khaliq Hamirin (30th, FG), Muhammad Amerullah Abd Aziz (37th, FG), Fardzul Afiq (39th, FG), Hafif Elkan (45th, PC) and Nazirul Mubin (58th, FG).
The cops lead the Division Two campaign with 13 points followed by Selangor (9 points), Kelantan (9 points) and Armed Forces in fourth position with seven points. The preliminary round ends on Friday.
Results – Division One Group B: Johor 4 Pahang 3; Kuala Lumpur 2 Negeri Sembilan 1.
Division 2: Selangor 9 Sarawak 0; Police 6 Kedah 3; Kelantan 3 Armed Forces 2.
Thursday – Division 1A: Malacca v Penang (Pitch 1, 6.0pm); Perak v Terengganu (Pitch 2, 6.0pm).
Division 1B: Pahang v Kuala Lumpur (Pitch 1, 8.0pm); Negeri Sembilan v Johor (Pitch 2, 8.0pm).