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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

TOUGH ENCOUNTER


KOTA KINABALU: Charles Obi insists he does not fear any team in the Premier League. “I don’t fear any team,” the Rhinos striker-in-chief insisted ahead of their clash against Kuala Lumpur at the Likas Stadium tonight.

“If you go into a game fearing a team then you may as well don’t play. I am never scared of any team … it is only a 90-minute affair. It is my principle or policy that you need to be confident whenever you go to the battlefield with the heart that you are going to win the game,” said the Nigerian. On the Kuala Lumpur date Obi said: “It is a very important game for us to win. They won 1-0 in the first round so we will not take them for granted. We must do our best to get the three points.”

Obi, who is currently the League’s leading scorer with nine goals to his credit thus far, also believes they have the quality to claim one of the two promotion slots to the Super League next season.

“We have had a slow start to the season, but we have a fantastic spirit and fantastic quality of late, and if this goes on, I am very sure we will be up there at the end of the season.

“We are enjoying our football and we have a big belief in ourselves. Hopefully we can continue playing the way we are and pick up the points along the way. On his partnership with countryman Prince Ativie, Obi said that since he (Ativie) arrived there has been improvement in the attack. “I can understand him so it is quite easy for me to play alongside him,” he said. He also called on the fans to come in full force to support the team tonight.

“From now on every game will be a do-or-die mission for the team, and it would be a great help if more fans come and support us. Obi’s other countryman Prince Eboagwu Etuwe, a defender, also shared Obi’s sentiment regarding the Rhinos’ chances at their promotion quest. Eboagwu said: “As long as we can stay focused and give our fullest concentration in all our games, I think to finish among the top two is still pretty much within our reach.”

Commenting on the team’s strength, Eboagwu said that the team strength lies in the attack.

“I think our attack has been pretty good. We have been scoring goals, and the strikers have been doing really well, especially Obi.” To another question, he could not point out the team’s weaknesses, and said: “I don’t see any weak point in the team if everyone is giving their best. If we play our hearts out, we will be a good side. And that is what we have been doing all this while. Everyone is giving their best and spirit, determination as well as commitment is also pretty high in the team. Eboagwu also said that he finds Sabah a wonderful place to stay. “The fans have been good while the coach and the team management have been great and it is my hope to see more fans coming and supporting us especially when we play our home matches,” he said.

Meanwhile team manager Rahman Zakaria wants the Rhinos to get the three points from the match. He said: “We are now already in the second round and we certainly could not afford to slip points away especially in our home matches.” “This will be a tough match as like us, Kuala Lumpur are also still in contention for promotion. “They are coming here with high spirit following their victory over Selangor in the Malaysia Cup challenge on Saturday. “So we better be prepared and give the best we can in the game,” said Rahman.

Sabah are currently joint fourth with PKNS with 17 points in the standings, but played one match lesser than League leaders UPB-MyTEAM, who sit on top of the 11-team standings on 24 points. As for Kuala Lumpur they are one point ahead in third, but have played one match more than Sabah and PKNS. Police are in second on 22 points. And with UPB-MyTEAM not playing tonight, a win for Sabah could help close the gap with the leaders.

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