FILE PIC: Firhan Ashaari (looking up) celebrates scoring the third goal in Malaysia's 3-2 win against Japan in the Ordos Asia Cup bronze battle. Yesterday, he virtually handed Thunderbolts their first JHL double.
TENGKU Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) Thunderbolts finally landed their Junior Hockey League double with help from national drop-out Firhan Ashaari at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday.
UniKL Young Guns fell 2-1 as Firhan scored the equalsier and then manufactured a penalty corner, which he duly pushed in from the sideline, for Aminudin Zain to drag home the winner.
The Milo Cup final was a cracker, as both teams shared the JHL silverware since 2010 and failed to land the double, but Thunderbolts were the better side while UniKL bungled seven penalty corners to finally finish empty handed.
“This is a real monumental moment for the sports school as we finally lifted the league and Milo Cup titles. I must credit the timely inclusion of Firhan in the knock-out stages which gave us the extra boost today (yesterday), said SSTMI coach Wan Roslan.
The gold medal came with a purse of RM25,000 for Thunderbolts, while UniKL pocketed RM15,000.
UniKL Young Guns shocked the gallery as early as the sixth minute, when they salvaged a complicated penalty corner set-piece to surge ahead.
Thunderbolts did well to defend the first penalty corner of the match, but the ball fell awkwardly towards Fahed Saifullah at the top of the semi-circle and he sent home a cracker to stanch an early lead.
The score remained until the half-time, as both sides muffed chances, with UniKL looking the more determined side.
And after the breather, the 1,000 odd fans did not have to wait long as in the 41st minute national senior drop-out Firhan Ashaari weaved himself past three defenders and then the goalkeeper to slot in the equaliser from close range.
Firhan’s attachment with the national team and the tours he played with them turned out to be a blessing for Thun derbolts, as he then won a penalty corner in the 62nd minute and the Johor side took the lead.
This time, Thunderbolts normal flicker Shahril Saabah moved aside, and instead, Aminudin Zain flicked in the crucial goal.
UniKL then were given a golden opportunity to take the match into extra-time as with four minutes on the clock, Thunderbolts’ Hafiz Seleman was shown the yellow, while Shahril Saabah the green and they only had nine players on the pitch.
However, clever defending and overhead throws killed the clock and Thunderbolts were finally crowned as double champions.
RESULTS -- Final: UniKL 1 SSTMI Thunderbolts 2; Third- Fourth: Bukit Jalil Sports School 3 MBI Anderson 1.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Best Player Overall: Syafiq Zulzairin (UniKL) RM1,500
Man-of-the-match Final: Firhan Asharri (Thunderbolts) RM1,500
Best Goalkeeper: Adi Fazri Abdul Rahim (MSSPP-USM) – RM1,500
Top-scorer: Shahril Saabah (SSTMI-Thunderbolt - 18 goals) – RM1,500
Fairplay: Kedah HA Juniors - RM4,000