Sapura have been blowing hot and cold in the TNB Malaysian Hockey League. And while they failed to maintain consistency in the Premier League, coach Tai Beng Hai is hoping for a change of fortunes in the TNB Cup that will take off next week.Wary of the fact that consistency is the key factor in the knockout stage, Beng Hai will be working on several aspects of his team over the next week and hopes that they changes will be visible in the league matches this weekend.
Sapura had a great outing last weekend in Penang as they defeated Tenaga Nasional Berhad ( 3-2) and Terengganu HT (3-1). And this week they will take on Nur Insafi Warriors on Friday before wrapping up the league fixtures against Maybank on Sunday.
"We need to be consistent and that is where we have failed. It is not a case of playing badly but we just cannot put the finishing touches to the chances we created," lamented Beng Hai.
"Infact if you look at the results, we have given teams like KLHC, Maybank and TNB a tough time but against weaker sides we have faltered. And this has to change if we are to progress."
Sapura have scored a total of 24 goals, out of which 13 are by Pakistani import Khasif Ali. And while Beng Hai is grateful of his contributions, the former national coach hopes that other players also do their bit for the team by finding the back of the net.
In the knockout stage, Sapura will have to play either UniKL or Terengganu HT, assuming they finish in the fourth spot of the league standings. The format provides a bye for the top two teams into the semis while the other four teams play a two legged quarterfinal for a place in the semis. The draw will be held after the last league match on Sunday.
"This year the MHL is far more competitive thaen what it was before. The influx of foreign players plus the movement of some national players between the clubs has no doubt attributed to this happening," said Beng Hai.
"Hence there has not been anything that can be considered an easy game as teams need to be on their toes in every match. And for the knockout stage we have to be more clinical in our finishing and shore up our defence.
And while KLHC have already clinched the Premier Division title, the fight for the Division one title is going down to the wire. Two teams, Uitm and TNB Thunderbolts can win the league title.
Uitm are currently topping the table with 25 points while Thunderbolts are 2 points behind. And if the two teams win their matches against their opponents , ironically both play against Bukit Jalil Sports School then their match on Saturday will determine the league champion.