WITH three foregone conclusions, the return leg of the Milo Cup Junior Hockey League knock-out stage spotlight will be on the Sapura and MBI Anderson match at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium today.
Sapura, highly touted to seal a comfortable win in the first leg after an impressive show in Division One, could only hold MBI Anderson to a 1-1 draw.
They were a pale shadow of the unbeaten team which lifted the Division Two title by scoring 42 goals and letting on only two in Group A.
In comparison, MBI Anderson struggled in Division One, and finished fourth after scoring 28 goals and letting in a massive 27.
League champions SSTMI Thunderbolts are cruising on the road to semi-finals after they hammered Petaling Jaya Municipal Council 7-1, while UniKL Young Guns’ run is also unstoppable after they beat USM Juniors 6-1.
Bukit Jalil Sports School have also firmly rooted themselves in the semi-finals after a 6-1 show against Malacca High School.
“It was simply amazing on how my players muffed four sitters to make their return leg an uphill battle. I can’t even call the misses unlucky, because even novice players could have scored off those situations,” lamented Sapura coach I. Vickneswaran.
And with two players suspended from the second leg after picking up eight demerit points, Sapura will miss Fadzli Zulkifli and Farid Zuki today.
“The situation does not look favourable, but I have plans on how to make amends on Sunday, and hopefully, the players stick to my game-plan,” said Vickneswaran.
Another unhappy official was UniKL Young Guns’s manager Amir Azhar.
“The win (6-1) look comfortable enough, but I am not satisfied with the way my team played in the first leg. They were floating in and out of the match, and all the departments were not at their best.
“We can’t afford this kind of attitude in the remaining knock-out matches, if we want to lay hands on the Milo Cup,” said Amir.
UniKL will also miss the services of Haniff Saidin, while BJSS’ Norshafiq Sumantri and PJCC’s Faiz Haiqal will not see action in the return leg due to demerit points.
TODAY -- Second Leg: Bukit Jalil Sports School (6) v Malacca High School (1) (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 4pm), USM Juniors (1) v UniKL Young Guns (6) (KLHA, 4pm), Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (1) v SSTMI Thunderbolts (7) (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 6pm), MBI Anderson (1) v Sapura (1) (KLHA, 6pm).
Note: First leg scores in parenthesis.