DEFENDING champions SSTMI-Thunderbolts and UniKL Young Guns have virtually sealed their places in the Milo Cup final following impressive wins in the semi-finals first leg at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
SSTMI, the league champions, thrashed Olak-KPT 6-1 in an one-sided affair while UniKL overcame Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) 5-2.
Penalty corner specialist Aminuddin Mohd Zain scored in the the third, 21st and 64th minutes to complete a hat-trick while Azril Misron (24th), Amirol Aideed Arshad (37th) and Luqman Nul Hakim Shukran (59th) completed the SSTMI rout.
Mawardi Harmirin replied for Olak with a field goal in the 47th minute.
"We got the result we wanted so I will rest some key players, especially those with yellow and green cards, for the second leg on Friday (tomorrow). I am happy with my team's performance as three of six goals were scored from penalty corners," said SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Abdullah in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Olak coach S. Sivabalan reminded his players not to concede an early goal yesterday but they did just that and things fell apart.
"We tried our best to match SSTMI but they were better in all aspects of the game. We have achieved our target and will play in Division One next season so reaching this far in the tournament is a bonus," said Sivabalan.
In the other semi-final, UniKL played an intelligent game and could have won by a bigger margin.
UniKL were awarded a penalty stroke in the ninth minute when PJCC captain Zul Pidaus Mizun stopped the ball on the line with his body and was sent to the sin bin. He will miss the return leg as he has collected eight demerit points.
UniKL's Shafirul Aqmar Saiful stepped up and slotted home for the lead. However, PJCC replied through Mohd Helmi Jaafar off a penalty corner set-piece in the 16th minute.
Despite the setback, UniKL regained the lead when captain Nor Azrul Abdul Rahman converted a penalty corner in the 33th minute before Norshafiq Sumantri added a third in the 40th. PJCC managed to reduce the deficit through Helmi in the 52nd minute but UniKL raced ahead with goals from Mohd Haikal Zamri (58th) and Shafirul (63rd) for the comfortable win.
"I am happy with how they played but there is still room for improvement as we made far too many errors in defence. We must play better in the return leg," said UniKL manager Mohd Faiz Isa.