Tuesday February 5, 2013
Thunderbolt and UniKL get a second bite of the cherry
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) just could not believe their luck. They thought their hopes of winning the Division One crown in the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League were dead and buried.
Thanks to SSTMI-Thunderbolt’s shocking 4-0 win over Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) on Sunday, the battle for the title is now wide open. And now, UniKL plan to grab it with both hands when they tackle Thunderbolt on Thursday.
“We have a six-day break before the match. We will be physically and mentally prepared for the match. The good thing is we are injury free,” said UniKL coach K. Embaraj.
MBPJ are the eight-team league leaders with 18 points, but they have completed their fixtures. Second-placed Thunderbolt and third-placed UniKL are both on 15 points. A win is enough for either Thunderbolt or UniKL to lift the title as they have a better goal difference than MBPJ.
For MBPJ, they will be keeping their fingers crossed that the match will end in a draw.
Said MBPJ assistant team manager Zainal Abidin Ismail: “Yes, we will be at the stadium in full force. If the result goes our way, then we will go down to the pitch and celebrate. But we will not begrudge the other team if they win the title. We had our chances but could not capitalise on it.”
Like UniKL, double champions Thunderbolt are rubbing their hands in glee now they have another shot at the title. They thought their title chances had gone up in smoke after suffering a shocking 3-2 loss to MBI-Anderson in Ipoh on Friday.
“It’s not often that you get a second bite of the cherry. So, we must make the match count against UniKl,” said Thunderbolt coach Wan Mohamed Roslan.
“The players have recovered from the defeat in Ipoh. It was a good wake-up call for them. At least now they know they are not unbeatable especially if they play badly. We also cannot afford to give too much room or respect to UniKL,” he added.
The good news for Thunderbolt is that Mohamed Shahril Saabah is in fine scoring form. He has contributed six goals in Thunderbolt’s total of 29, the highest in the league.
With the race for the title heating up, a number of players lost their cool on the pitch last weekend.
MBPJ were the biggest culprits. Two of their players were red carded while another had two yellow cards.
Mohamed Asraf Zulzali was red carded while Mohamed Shahiram Zali was yellow carded twice in the 2-1 win over Malacca High School on Saturday. Then on Sunday, Khairol Shafiq was red carded in the match against Thunderbolt.
In Division Two, Politeknik-KPT’s Mohamed Kamarul was shown a red card for a deliberate foul against Olak-PKT on Sunday.
All the three cases of indiscipline will be dealt with by the MJHL technical committee tomorrow.