Can anyone stop the SSTMI-Thunderbolt machine from winning the MJHL overall title as they are certain to meet UniKL in the final on Friday?
KUALA LUMPUR: It is going to be a fifth successive final between SSTMI-Thunderbolt and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) in the MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
Only a major upset can prevent the duo, who have acquired comfortable cushions after the first leg semi-finals, from reaching Sunday’s showdown for the overall title.
Thunderbolt thumped Olak-PKT 6-1 while UniKL beat Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) 5-2 on Wednesday.
Going by the scorelines, Friday’s return leg of the semi-finals should be mere formalities.
UniKL won the double on their MJHL debut in 2010. But from 2011 onwards, Thunderbolt have ruled the roost.
Despite holding the advantage, UniKL are not planning on easing off in the return leg.
Team manager Mohd Faiz Isa has two concerns going into the match.
“Firstly, we need to keep winning ... maintaining that momentum is vital at this stage,” said Faiz.
The other concern is warning cards. Mohd Hafif Elkan is suspended for the return leg but will be available for the final.
However, five others are in danger of missing the final if they collect a green card on Friday.
“We may give them a longer rest but it depends ...,” said Faiz.
The five in danger of suspension are Nor Azrul Rahman, Mohd Shahfirul Aqmal, Wan Mohd Hazrul, Ahmad Ashraf Alias and Mohd Rahimi Iskandar.
Rahimi, however, is nursing an injury he picked up in the first leg and is a doubtful starter.
MBPJ will be depleted as well because Mohd Khairul Adha and Zul Pidaus Mizuin are suspended.
Team manager Zainal Abidin Ismail admitted that it won’t be easy to overcome the three-goal deficit.
“We aim to get early goals to reduce the deficit. Only then can we try and salvage the match,” he said.
Thunderbolt, on the other hand, can play their reserves and still walk off winners in what is expected to be another high scoring game.