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Monday, April 30, 2007

DESTINY IN THEIR OWN HANDS


KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria says their fate in the Malaysia Cup is pretty much in their own hands.

The Rhinos’ team manager says all is not lost for the team insisting that it is them who will decide their destiny in the country’s most prestigious competition despite being held to a one-all draw by Super League leaders Kedah on Saturday.

In the game, striker Charles Obi scored the equaliser 10 minutes from time to cancel out Nelson Sam Martin’s opener for Kedah in the 51st minute.

“Now it is up to us to grab the opportunity,” he said, admitting that a victory over Kedah, who also lead the Group C challenge, could have put them in a better position.

“But securing a point is better than losing, which could have put us in trouble,” he added.

“Now we have a very clear-cut mission,” he said, pointing out that the order of the day will be to win the remaining two matches – home against Pahang and away to Police.

“And if we can do that, we will be assured of a place in the quarter-finals no matter what the outcome of the other matches,” Rahman said.

Sabah are currently lying in third in the six-team Group C, four points behind Kedah, who lead the group on 16 points, while Perak are two points ahead of Sabah in second.

Fourth-placed Police are also still in the race as they are only one point behind Sabah, while it is the end of the road for both Sarawak and Pahang.

If Sabah win their remaining matches it will see them accumulate a total of 18 points.

That will be enough to see them claiming a quarter-final slot via the best two third-placed finishes (teams) at the very least.

“If we continue to fight like what we did in our previous matches, I’m pretty optimistic we will make it into the knockout stage of the tournament,” Rahman said.

“But for the moment, we will take one match at a time. Now we have to focus on our league game against Armed Forces (away) on Tuesday before thinking of our next Malaysia Cup tie against Pahang (home on May 5).

“But we are not the only team that will be on a do-or-die mission in the remaining group fixtures because Kedah, Perak and Police are also in the same situation as us although we have to admit the fact that Kedah are now holding the upper hand.

Rahman also revealed goalkeeper Irwan Jamil could make a quick comeback to first team action following a freak injury against Kedah.

The young goalkeeper was rushed to hospital after he was caught on the head by a late Mohd Khyril Muhymeen Zamri challenge after 10 minutes of the match.

“After an initial scan and medical check-up, there is no major injury … he has been cleared to play in the next game but we’ll see about his recovery,” he said.

Sabah next face the Armed Forces in a TM Premier League tie at the MPS Stadium in Selayang tomorrow (May 1).

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