KUALA LUMPUR: Old La Sallians Association of Klang (Olak-PKT) are making their foray into the semi-final stage of the MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) after a 14-year hiatus.
But they know going any further will need a mammoth task considering their opponents are defending champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt, who have been unbeaten thus far.
Olak last made the semi-finals in 2000. They went on to win the overall title by beating Tenaga Nasional 2-0 in the final. Olak have three league (1997, 1998, 1999) and three overall (1998, 1999, 2000) titles to their name. After reaching the heights in 2000, they fell into the doldrums and were demoted to Division Two.
Olak, however, are back in Division One next season, having won promotion this year.
“Coming this far has been a bonus for the team. But we are not throwing in the towel just yet although SSTMI are just far too strong and we are no where near their level of consistency,” said Olak team manager Joseph de Silva.
“In the early years of the MJHL we were able to build a strong team but when the players were over-aged we could not entice new talents to our stable. During that time, the two sports schools (Bukit Jalil and Bandar Penawar) came into the picture and were making inroads in the MJHL.
“But now we have PKT as our sponsors and they are fully committed in supporting us in our bid to rebuild the team. This year, the inclusion of talented players from Sabah and Negri Sembilan has helped us. Now that we are back in Division One, we have to improve further on the strength of our team,” he added.
For Wednesday’s first leg, Olak will be without midfielder Mohamed Fakrul Razi as he is under suspension.
As usual, Olak will depend on the three Sabahans – skipper Mohamed Syabariq Shamsuri, Mawardi Hamirin and Maxhans Christi – to get the team going.
“We are not perturbed about Thunderbolt’s reputation. We have nothing to lose as we have achieved our target for this year. We are looking forward to the 2015 challenge. But there is no harm in giving our best in the last four and making Thunderbolt work for their place in the final,” said Joseph.
Compared to Olak’s labouring 4-3 aggregate triumph over Malacca High School in the two-leg quarter-finals, Thunderbolt scored a massive 22-2 aggregate triumph over MSP Pahang Juniors.
Thunderbolt will again deploy an attacking strategy.
“Our objective is simple and that is to win. We are gunning for the double and there will be no let-up on our side,” said Thunderbolt team manager Adam Izamry Idrus.