LEAGUE champions SSTMI Thunderbolts were given an early shock, but went on the beat SSP-MSP Thunderbolts 5-1 in the first leg semi-finals of the MHC-Milo-NSC Milo Cup at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
SSTMI Thunderbolts virtually booked a spot in the Milo Cup final even before playing the return leg on Friday.
However, at the adjacent pitch, UniKL Young Guns had to bring out their best to edge Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) 2-0 to keep their hopes alive of playing in the final.
UniKL got their goals off Maxhans Christi in the 25th minute, while the second goal was scored by Shamsul Aliff in the 58th.
SSTMI took a 2-0 lead off Luqman Hakim (34th) and Aliff Syazwan (36th) but were shocked when their Pahang counter-parts narrowed the score off Idris Samad (44th). But Amirul Hamizan (58th), Nik Aiman (61st) and Aliff again in the (67th)delivered for SSTMI and they look set to defend their Milo Cup title on Sunday.
For the record, UniKL and PJCC played to a 1-1 draw in the league: "I am proud of my players because they showed great drive even though we did not have three key players today as they were out because of suspension and injuries. The bench showed that it has the strenght to contribute towards the success of the team," said UniKL coach I. Vickneswaran.
PJCC team manager Zainal Abidin looked dejected, but said two goals is not too difficult to chase in the return leg.
"We missed all our penalty corner chances (five in total) and this is quite unusual for my players. However, we are not giving up the final slot, as I believe my charges have the capabilities to make a comeback in the return leg," said Zainal.
RESULTS: Semi-finals First Leg: SSTMI Thunderbolts 5 SSP-MSP Thunderbolts 1; UniKL Young Guns 2 Petaling Jaya City Council 0.
TOMORROW: Semi-finals Second Leg: SSTMI Thunderbolts v SSP-MSP Thunderbolts (National Stadium Pitch I, 5.30pm); UniKL Young Guns v Petaling Jaya City Council (National Stadium Pitch II, 5.30pm).