Kuala Lumpur qualified for the final of the National Under 21 Tournament when they defeated Johor 4-1 in the semifinals at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru.
The city side recovered from a goal down and scored three goals in a space of four minutes in the second half to deny the hosts of a place in Sunday’s final.
However they will be without the services of five players for the final as they left for Singapore to join the national U18 team participating in the AHF Cup.
The five are Mohd Fitri Saari, Mohd Shahril Saabah, Mohd Taufik Abdul Hamid, Mohd Aslam Mohammad and Mohd Amirul Aideed Arshad. However Aideed is expected to be released to play for KL in the final.
“This was our best performance as the forwards took their chances well,” said KL coach K. Embaraj.
“However we will sorely miss the services of the four players and it will be a tough task playing the final with only 14 players. But this is something we knew before the tournament and have accepted the fact that national duty comes first.
“The difference today between us and Johor was our superior fitness and the experience of the key players also was a vital factor in helping us secure a place in the final.”
Johor opened scoring in the 4th minute when no Mohd Nor Hafiq Abdul Ghaffar converted a penalty corner.
However KL were undeterred and went on attack mode to search for the equalizer. And they would have not scored had it not been for Mohd Ramadhan Rosli who missed two sitters in the 17th and 20th minutes with only the keeper to beat.
But KL were back on level terms in the 24th minute when instead of his trademark flicks, Mohd Zulhairi Hashim opted to hit and it sounded the board to make it 1-1.
Johor had several opportunities to score, with their best chance falling to Mohd Fariq Saadon who had a simple task of tapping the ball into an empty goal with all the KL players beaten but instead put the attempt wide. And that was the respite KL needed.
Mohd Shahril Saabah put KL ahead in the 56th minute through a penalty corner strike. And three minutes later Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof scored KL’s third goal.
Barely a minute later Shahril capitalised on poor defending by Mohd Amirul Syafiq and raced into the semi circle before slotting the ball past a bewildered Johor custodian Mohd Hairi Abdul Rahman.
“We lost to a better team and really the players tried their best. But where the mind was willing, the legs were not just up to it as our fitness let us down,” said Johor coach Chairil Anwar Abdul Aziz.
“There were lapses of concentration in the defence and we made silly mistakes to give the ball away in our own half. And that cost us a place in the final.”
In the match to determine the 5/6th placing, Perak defeated Selangor 8-2.
Kuala Lumpur 4