PETALING JAYA: Thunderbolts will get to play in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) after all.
The team will get to keep most of their schoolboys as all of them have received approval from the Education Ministry to play in the league starting on March 11 in Bukit Jalil.
The team had been anxious last week as students from various sports schools had not been given the permission to play and Thunderbolts were on the verge of withdrawing from the league.
Only those sitting for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations had to skip the league and they are Danish Aiman Khairil Anuar, Addy Jazmi Jamlus and Harris Iskandar Osman.
While generally happy that they get to play in the league, coach Madzli Ikmar admits that he is now faced with another challenge.
Due to the short notice, he will only get to train his players as a team when they report for the sports bubble training on March 9. Madzli said he could not conduct a short training camp because the students had been based in different states during the movement control order.
“We have asked the boys to do swab tests at their respective places and self-quarantine themselves before they report for the sports bubble training, ” said Madzli.
“Preparation-wise, it is not ideal, but we have no choice. As a coach, it is indeed a challenge as we lack the tactical drills.”
He plans to start all over with just a week before the MHL begins.
“We will assess and tweak the team game by game during the league.
“It’ll not be easy to name our best 11 under this circumstances but we will give all we’ve got, ” said Madzli, who will be assisted by Tenaga’s head of development coach Nor Saiful Zaini.
Meanwhile, Sabah, who will be coached by former Ernst and Young coach Eugene Lee, also confirmed that they had been given the clearance to use the services of sports school students.
Said Sabah Hockey Association president Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh: “We are glad that Eugene has accepted the job and I’m sure he will help develop the boys with his experience in the game.
“We are targeting a top-five finish. The boys will be in Kuala Lumpur on March 3 and will have a short camp before reporting for the sports bubble training.”