KUALA LUMPUR: The two MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) semi-final matches promise to be a study of contrasts.
One pits defending champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt against Olak-PKT while the other sees last year’s runners-up Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) taking on another former champion Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL). Both matches will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, with the first leg getting under way on Wednesday.
The Thunderbolt-Olak match is almost a foregone conclusion, with the champions in tremendous form.
Thunderbolt are unbeaten so far and they are not about to let up on their title charge, as promised by coach Wan Mohamed Roslan.
“It’s all about winning ... it doesn’t matter how many goals we score. We want to complete the double,” he said.
“We respect all teams but we fear no one.”
Their 22-2 aggregate win against MSP Pahang Juniors in the quarter-finals would have sent shivers down the spine of most teams.
The other tie promises to be an exciting game, with both UniKL and MBPJ having an equal chance of making the final.
In the group phase, UniKL defeated the PJ side 2-1 to finish second in the league competition.
But MBPJ have since improved and are now a more settled side.
UniKL may be inconsistent but they have pulled off wins over the fancied teams. In fact, their only loss was to Thunderbolt.
UniKL manager Mohamed Faiz Isa preferred to make MBPJ the favourites.
“We’ve been lucky at times ... right now, the only option is to go for the kill from the start,” he said.
“I would say that MBPJ are the favourites as they’ve shown a consistent form and play well.
“But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up. We are going to plan this game over two ties and ensure we have a settled line-up that can match them in all departments.”
MBPJ team manager Zainal Abidin Ismail is confident they can overcome UniKL, although he feels that the form of the day will be the decider.
“Sometimes you can have the best players and still play badly. I think we both are evenly matched ... how the players react on game day will be crucial,” he said.