The last time Maybank defeated Tenaga Nasional Berhad in the knock out stage of the MHL was in the 1999 season. But they went on to lose the final against Bank Simpanan Nasional. And prior to that Maybank won the double in 1994 and the overall title in 1995.

Ironically both Maybank and TNB are the pioneers of the MHL,  as the two clubs have never missed out on any edition since the MHL was introduced to replace the Champions Club tournament in 1987.

But for Maybank coach Wallace Tan, dwelling or living in the past is the last thing on his mind as he plots to overcome TNB in the two leg semis that will be held on Friday and Sunday.

"It is going to be really tough match as TNB have been our nemesis in the MHL for many a years. They have time and again denied us a place in the final and I think this time around it will be no different," said the wily Wallace who is known for being a crafty tactician.

"Though the honours were even in the league matches, we should not read much into this as TNB are a great side once they get into the momentum and one could see the devastation they can cause once they get going."

Maybank have four Pakistani players that have given them the cutting edge over other teams in the MHL. The four are Muhammad Irfan, Shakeel Abbasi, Muhammad Waqas and Shafqat Rasool.

While Shakeel and Waqas have been grabbing the limelight, it is the astute creativity of Shafqat that has prised open many a defence in the league and he is expected to play a key role.

"We have a team that relies on working together and as such that will be our weapon against TNB. We need to remain composed and not let them dictate play in order to keep the tie alive," said Maybank skipper Hairul Nizam Abdul

"Th players are all in the right spirit to face TNB this time around and we hope to raise our game to be able to challenge them and make the final next week."

As for TNB, their performance has improved, evident from their second half display against Terengganu HT in the second leg quarterfinal match where they went on to score five goals to book a place in the semis.

"We are lighting up and once we are fully charged then there is no stopping us. Hopefully my team will not suffer from any more blackouts." said TNB coach Nor Azlan Bakar in jest.

"The team is fully aware of what they need to do on the pitch but at times we put ourselves under undue pressure on the pitch. This has got to change as we have players that can deliver."

TNB have been relying heavily on Faisal Saari for goals and others like Amir Farid, Firhan Ashaari and Azammi Abadi have to start delivering should the former champions want to make the final.

For TNB skipper Mohd Amin Rahim, it really does not matter who scores as long as the job gets done. Amin used to be the ace penalty corner striker for TNB but has since been relegated to being their third choice with Faisal as the numero uno and youngster Mohd Shahril Saabah in number two.

"Seriously it does not affect my game as its a team effort and as long as TNB wins I am happy. I have to marshall the defence and keep a close watch on the Pakistanis as they are really dangerous, especially when counter attacking," said Amin.

 



 

 

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