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The Star Online: Sports

Hockey: All four clubs very much in contention after first leg

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 07:09 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: The first-leg of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) semi-finals ended yesterday with all four clubs still very much in contention.

While defending league champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) slogged for a 2-1 win over Yayasan Negri Sembilan at the Tun Razak Sadium, Sapura came back from two goals down to hold reigning overall champions Tenaga Nasional to a 2-2 draw at the same venue.

The return leg matches will be played at the same venue tomorrow.

YNS, who were outplayed by KLHC 6-3 and 7-2 in the two league matches, led through Pakistani Muhammad Waqas Sharif's 14th minute goal before former international Ismail Abu turned the game around for KLHC by forcing YNS' Shakeel Abbasi to score an own goal in the 27th minute and netting the winner in the 43rd minute.

In the other semi-final, Tenaga took the lead off their first penalty corner in the 13th minute through national forward Faizal Saari and doubled the lead through Faiz Helmi in the 54th minute.

Sapura, however, hit back with two goals in three minutes. Azreen Rizal Nasir reduced the deficit from close range in the 64th minute before Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi equalised off a penalty corner rebound three minutes later.

In the first semi-final, YNS began the match against KLHC without former Indian international forward Prabhjot Singh, who had returned home to be with his wife, who is due to give birth soon. The Negri outfit, who are featuring in the MHL after a lapse of 15 years, started off promisingly by taking the lead in the 14th minute. Indian forward Deepak Thakur crossed from the left and it was deflected into goal by Muhammad Waqas.

Deepak and Waqas combined well and had a chance to increase their team's lead five minutes later. Deepak collected a pass from Waqas but, with only goalkeeper Khairulnizam Ibrahim to beat, he pushed his shot from the top D just inches wide.

KLHC, powered by seven internationals, struggled to make an impact in the first-half. Still, they managed to equalise in the 27th minute through Shakeel Abbasi's own goal. It began when Ismail beat two defenders in the D and crossed the ball, which Abbasi deflected into goal.

KLHC played better after the break and it paid off when Ismail turned in a Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin cross into goal in the 43rd minute.

YNS, featuring 10 foreigners, stepped up their game but failed to captalise on the chances they created in the last 10 minutes, leaving KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj a relieved man.

For he knew they "nearly paid the price for making too many mistakes in midfield".

"YNS have shown that they have the ability to play well. The one-goal cushion is not good for us as YNS are capable of rising to the occasion in the return leg," said Dharmaraj.

YNS coach Hasnisan Abu Sim was upbeat despite the defeat, insisting "we still have a chance to reach the final".

"We started off well by taking the lead. We had a chance to increase the lead five minutes later but it was just unlucky that Deepak pushed his shot wide from the top D," said Hasnizan.

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Anuar revels in the rain to win stage

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 07:06 PM PST

PETALING JAYA: National cycling ace Anuar Manan of Terengganu Pro-Asia team revelled in the rain and silenced his critics when he won the 89.6km Stage Four of the Tour of Malaysia in Pekan yesterday.

The Kuala Rompin-Pekan stage win was his first since emerging triumphant in Stage Four of the Tour of Thailand in last April.

Anuar clearly benefited from the lead-out by team-mate Mohd Harrif Salleh to take the stage ahead of Iranian Hossein Nateghi of Vali ASR Kerman and Boris Shiplevskiy (Tabriz Petrochemical).

The win also enabled Anuar to wrest the yellow jersey (overall leader) from Harrif.

Although rare for a sprinter like Anuar to be wearing the yellow jersey, the Terengganu lad said "it is better for the jersey to stay in the team than giving it up to other teams".

"The initial plan was to take the stage as we knew it was short and we had a good chance of winning it," said Anuar.

"Harrif did a good job in the final sprint. But we also got some help from the other Malaysian teams and that made the difference."

The race saw 10 riders, including Hossein Askari of Tabriz Petrochemical, Seyed Moezeedin (Vali ASR Kerman), Christoph Springer (SP Tableware), Loh Sea Keong (Kuala Lumpur), Ahmad Fakhrullah Alias (Malaysia) and Kenichi Suzuki (Aisan Racing) – breaking free from the main bunch at the 11km mark.

But the fast-moving main bunch soon caught up with the breakaway group just before the intermediate sprint, which Anuar won.

The penultimate stage today – from Pekan to Bentong – will be the longest on the Tour, covering a distance of 221.2km.

With no mountain stages on the Tour, Anuar stands of good chance of ending it with the yellow jersey.

"We will not let the jersey slip from our hands. Many teams attacked us right from the beginning but we worked hard to reel them in," said the 25-year-old Anuar.

"This is the first time I've held the yellow jersey since last winning the Perlis Open in 2009."


Stage 4: 1. Anuar Manan (Terengganu Pro-Asia) 1'52:24, 2. Hossein Nateghi (Vali ASR Kerman), 3. Boris Shiplevskiy (Tabriz Petrochemical), 4. Mohd Harrif Salleh (Terengganu Pro-Asia), 5. Rico Rogers (Giant Kenda) all same time.

Overall standings: 1. Anuar Manan Terengganu Pro-Asia) 13'54:42, 2. Mohd Harrif Salleh (Terengganu Pro-Asia) 5secs behind, 3. Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical) 11, 4. Ioannis Tamouridis (SP Tableware) 18, 5. Vidal Celis Zabala (LeTua) same time.

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