DIVISION One champions SSTMI Thunderbolts are already looking beyond the quarter-finals of the Milo Cup which will be played at the National Hockey Stadium today.
The champions will meet MSP Pahang, in what should be an easy encounter, and Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman did not hold back his thoughts.
“It’s not a question of being overconfident but I feel my team should have no problems making the semis,” said Wan Roslan.
“Frankly I admire the Pahang team as they are building for the future. It’s just unfortunate that they drew the short straw and are up against us.
“My instructions to the players is simple, make use of the chances, get a good lead so I can rest some players as we need them to be injury and suspension free for the semis.”
While Thunderbolts had the easiest of the draw, the other three quarter-final ties are equally poised, despite three teams being from Division One.
Former champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) are hoping to pull the rug from under the feet of Petaling Jaya Municipal Council in the other last eight.
But they will be hard pressed in the first leg as they have two players ruled out due to suspension and another two carrying injuries.
The two injured players are Adrian Andy and Syazi who suffered an injury that required nine stitches in the Division Two final against Politeknik KPM last Sunday.
“With four players out, we need to come up with a game plan to contain our opponents for the first leg,” said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
“A draw will be a good result and we have to play smartly and not open up our defence as PJCC are very good in their offensive play.”
The match of the quarter-finals will surely be UniKL Young Guns against Politeknik KPM.
UniKL have been blowing hot and cold throughout the Division One matches and if they continue to do so, they will surely miss out on a place in the semis.
“We did some soul searching with the players and hope to perform up to our real standard in the knockout stages,” said team manager Mohamed Faiz Isa.
“We are well aware of the dangers posed by our opponents who are on a high after winning the Division Two title.
“On our part we have been playing well only in patches and that stopped short our dream of winning the Division One title. But we hope to change our fortunes starting tomorrow (today).”
The other exciting match-up is between Malacca High School (MHS) and Olak-PKT that could swing either way.
Although Olak are from Division Two, they played like a Division One side in the play-offs, while Division One side MHS have the capability to upset the form-book if given half a chance.
MILO Cup -- Quarter-finals first leg: TODAY: SSTMI Thunderbolts v MSP Pahang (4pm, Pitch I); Malacca High School v Olak-PKT (4pm, Pitch II); Petaling Jaya Municipal Council v Bukit Jalil Sports School (6pm, Pitch I); UniKL Young Guns v Politeknik-KPM (6pm, Pitch II).
Quarter-finals first leg: SUNDAY: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (4pm, Pitch II); Politeknik- KPM v UniKL Young Guns (4pm, Pitch I); MSP Pahang v SSTMI Thunderbolts (6pm, Pitch II); Olak-PKT v Malacca High School (6pm, Pitch I).
(Note: All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil).