Saturday, March 1, 2014

UniKL's moment of truth...

THE return leg of the Milo Cup quarter-finals will only see  one tie which is still alive, UniKL Young Guns against  Politeknik-KPM at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit  Jalil on Sunday.
    Three teams in Olak-PKT, SSTMI Thunderbolts and Petal ing Jaya City Council all have healthy cushions from their first  leg on Friday.
    Politeknik-KPM, the Division Two playoff champions, were  a little jaded in the first leg, but have the players to turn the  tables on UniKL who only won 3-2 on Friday.
    During pre season, UniKL Young Guns were touted as the  team to beat in the Milo Junior Hockey League.
   But things went horribly wrong for them as not only were  they soundly beaten to the Division One League title by  defending champions SSTMI Thunderbolts (4-1), but they are  also struggling in the chase for the Milo Cup.
    Also missing is UniKL's 12th man - their supporters group  who provide the moral boost from the stands that drove the  team forward in previous seasons.
    “We struggled for large parts of the first leg and this  probably was due to the fact that the players were too eager  to seal the match early,” said UniKL Young Guns manager  Mohamed Faiz Isa.
     “Conceding the early goal put further pressure on the team  and that compounded matters. Only in the final ten minutes  did we play hockey we are capable off.
    “For the return leg we need to thread with caution and not  allow them to score as that will boost their confidence.”
     Faiz said that he was optimistic UniKL will make the last  four and their performance will improve.
    The other last-eight matches are just formalities, as  SSTMI  Thunderbolts hold an 8-0 lead over MS Pahang Juniors. BJSS  trail PJCC 4-1 and Malacca High School also trail Olak-PKT 4- 1.
    “We are a young side and considering that making the last  eight was a good achievement," said MS Pahang coach  Benedict Arrias.
     “Let's be honest, Thunderbolts are a class act and we hope  that one day our players too will play with the same  confidence as our quarters opponents do.”
     For BJSS, they are not prepared to throw in the towel yet:  “We need to score an early goal to get back into the match,”  said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
    “We made far too many mistakes in defence and could have  avoided the heavy defeat had we played with more confidence. Still I believe that we can bounce back if we show  determination from the first whistle.”
     Olak are playing with renewed confidence and should  make it through to the last four, a creditable achievement for  a Division Two side who missed the 2010 edition through  financial troubles, the only time they did not play in the MJHL  since it's inception in 1995.
     SUNDAY: Quarter-finals return leg: Bukit Jalil Sports School   (1) v Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (4) (4pm, Pitch II);  Politeknik- KPM (2) v UniKL Young Guns (3) (4pm, Pitch I);  MSP Pahang (0) v SSTMI  Thunderbolts (8) (6pm, Pitch II);  Olak-PKT (4) v Malacca High School (1) (6pm, Pitch I).
   (Note: All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit   Jalil. First leg scores in parenthesis).