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Saturday, April 28, 2007

VICTORY CRUCIAL


KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos’ boss Datuk Anifah Aman has urged the fans to batter it out together with the team when Sabah take on Kedah in an expected explosive Malaysia Cup Group C clash at the Likas Stadium tonight.

He said the team certainly needs the much-needed support from the fans to humble the high-riding Super League table toppers. “On behalf of the team, the team management and the players, I would like to appeal for an all-out support from the fans. We need to raise the volume and help our team,” said Anifah, who is also the FA of Malaysia Vice President.

“We need to win the tie at all costs in order to brighten our prospect of making it into the quarterfinals stage,” he added. “This really is a big game for us. It means absolutely everything and our destiny is in our own hands. “When you look at the standings, you can see how tight it is to claim the two quarterfinals slots (from the group). Even to make it among the best two third-placed teams would be tough. So obviously we need nothing less than a victory to put us in a good position. Besides that Anifah said this is the Rhinos’ biggest game thus far this season.

“This is not only a do-or-die battle for us, but it is also our biggest game so far in the season. Here we are not only up against the Group C leaders, but are facing a team that currently leads the Super League standings.

“They are one of the most consistent teams in the M-League, and this is going to be a tough, tough one for the boys. But I am glad to note that our team too has been doing pretty well, and I really hope they will rise to the occasion tomorrow,” said Anifah. Anifah added that Kedah’s unbeaten run in the competition would provide an added motivation for the players to aim for victory. With two matches left to play after tonight’s clash, the race for the two automatic quarterfinal slots is still wide open for the top three teams in the group. Kedah will go into the battle as the group leaders on 15 points, followed by Perak and Sabah with 13 and 11 points respectively.

However, even fourth and fifth placed Police and Sarawak, who are on eight and seven points respectively, both have a mathematical chance of progressing through.

On Sabah’s chances, Anifah said: “I’m not going to make any predictions, but the players know they have a job to do, and they also know a draw is not good enough for the team either.”

Kedah may have their deadly striker in Marlon Alex James to count on, but Anifah said their Nigerian striker Charles Obi is no less impressive than Marlon. “I’m happy with what he (Obi) has done thus far, and I want him to maintain the hard work and continue with his scoring feat. “But then again, this is not just about Obi … it is about one team. So it is important for the team to click together. For the clash, Sabah will be at full strength and they will surely rely on the Nigerian Obi and his countryman Prince Ativie Guy to do the damage on the visitors. Salvester Sindeh could also feature for the team following his impressive performances of late. Newly appointed Rosdin Wasli would start with youngster Radzi Hussin in midfield along with Chow Chee Wing and another youngster Zulamri Muhammad. At the backline, the ever-reliable Ahmad Tharmini Saiban will have the support from the lanky Nigerian defender Prince Eboagwu Etuwe, Ronny Harun and P. Rajes. Rhinos’ chief coach Drago Mamic could also start S. Sunder or new signing from Melaka Telekom, Munir Amran at the backline, while youngster Irwan Jamil will remain as the number one ball stopper. For the record, in the first round, Sabah held Kedah to a one-all draw in front of the packed Darul Aman Stadium.

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