THUNDER, Thunder..Thunderbolts! With their JHL League title in Johor Baru.
FIRHAN Ashaari's timely inclusion has given League champions Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) Thunderbolts the bragging rights to finally land a Junior Hockey League double this season.
Thunderbolts, who mutated from title-less Bandar Penawar Sports School, won the Overall title last season, but lost the League title battle to UniKL Young Guns.
It was the same in 2010, when Thunderbolts won the League title, but lost the Overall fight against UniKL.
And this year, Thunderbolts wrestled the League title from UniKL Young Guns on a goals scored average after both teams ended tied 1-1.
"We thumped all the teams in the League, except for the 1-1 draw aginst UniKL, so I feel this team is finally ready to claim the JHL double this season.
"And with Firhan back in the fold, our scoring machine will move a few rungs higher in the Milo Cup knock-out," said Thuderbolts coach Wan Roslan.
Firhan was listed by Thunderbolts when JHL entries closed, but he was immediately drafted into the senior national side and did not play a single league match.
"After the Dublin Qualifier team was named and Firhan did not make the cut, he played his first match for Thunderbolts in the second leg quarter-finals (against Petaling Jaya Municipal Council) and scored two goals," said Wan Roslan.
Nineteen-years-old Firhan's grueling training with the big boys as well as all the tours and friendlies he played in the run-up to the Olympic Qualifiers, has given Thunderbolts an extra edge which should see them easily overcome MBI Anderson.
For the record, MBI Anderson lost 6-0 to Thunderbolts in the league, however, the Ipoh side surprised Sapura with their fighting spirit in the quarter-finals.
As for UniKL, they will have to bring our their best against Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) in the other semi-finals. If the league encounter is taken as a yardstick, where UniKL could only beat BJSS 3-2, this match will remain interesting until the return leg.
"We still have not forgotten the League encounter against BJSS where we almost squandered the match. So, I believe even with out their skipper (Ahmad Ashraf Alias who picked up a yellow card in the second leg quarter-finals for deliberately stopping the ball with his foot) BJSS cannot be taken lightly," said UniKL manager Amir Azhar.
TODAY -- Semi-finals, first leg: SSTMI-Thunderbolts v MBI Anderson (5pm), Bukit Jalil SS v UniKL (7pm).
FRIDAY -- Semi-finals, return leg: UniKL v Bukit Jalil SS (5pm), MBI Anderson v SSTMI Thunderbolts (7.30pm).
(All semi-final matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil).