KUALA LUMPUR: Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) Thunderbolts believe there are no clear favourites in Division One of the Junior Hockey League (JHL) which begins Wednesday.
Last season, SSTMI Thunderbolts won the Overall title when they beat Pahang Sports School Thunderbolts 4-3 in shoot-out after both sides drew 2-2 during regulation time.
The League title was won my Petaling Jaya City Council Tigers on 23 points, while SSTMI Thunderbolts were second on 21 points.
SSTMI Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman said: "The early indications are that any one of the four Thunderbolts have a chance to win titles this season. It's a level playing field."
Th other Thunderbolts are Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) and Anderson School of Ipoh.
Thunderbolts is a project run and funded by Tenaga Nasonal, and last season all four were the semi-finalists in the Overall title chase.
"People are saying with UniKL (Universiti Kuala Lumpur) not fielding a team in the JHL this season, SSTMI are going to have an easy time. But I beg to differ, as the three other Thunderbolts and even our first opponents this season (SMK Datuk Bentara Luar) have a good team.
"Bentara Luar held us to a 1-1 draw last season, and we only beat them 4-2 in shoot-out," said Wan Roslan.
(Note: Drawn matches in League were decided with a shoot-out last season).
SSTMI will play Bentara Luar, sponsored and managed by UniKL, at Batu Pahat.
"We will be playing Datuk Bentara at their own den, and I expect it to be another tough match, just like last season," said Wan Roslan.
Datuk Bentara and SSTMI both have their own artificial pitches and sponsors.
WEDNESDAY: PJCC Tigers v SSTMI (PJ Stadium, 5pm), Datuk Bentara-UniKL v SSTMI Thunderbolts (Batu Pahat, 5pm), BJSS Thunderbolts v Olak (KLHA Stadium, 5pm).
FRIDAY: Pahang SS Thunderbolts v PJCC Tigers (Kuantan, 5pm), SSTMI v SSTMI Thunderbolts (SSTMI, 5pm).