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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

FAR FROM OVER


KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos are not willing to bow out to the Northern Lions when they meet in the return leg of the FA Cup quarter-finals in Kangar tonight.

Instead, they have pledged to go all out to claim a place in the semi-finals of the competition they last won in 1995.

The Rhinos are ready to slog it out with last year’s losing finalists, at least according to their team manager Rahman Zakaria.

He insists that the battle is far from over despite the fact that the Northern Lions are holding the home-ground advantage.

Besides that, they are also enjoying the away goals rule, following the first leg result that ended in a two-all draw.

“There is another 90 minutes to play, so we are not willing to surrender the semi-final ticket without a fight.

“In fact it is still an open contest and we know we are still pretty much in it,” he said.

Rahman said that even though Perlis may be holding the upper hand, it will not deter them from giving their best shot in the match.

“I’m not going to make any promises, but we are going to Kangar not looking for a draw. We will certainly try to win the game.

“This is definitely going to be a tough one for the team, but we are ready and prepared and we have nothing to fear.

“In fact we have nothing to lose, so obviously the players will be playing without any pressure. The only thing that we want them to do is to play their hearts out and play as a team. And if they can do that, then I dare to say that our chances are 50-50.

“I think the team that makes fewer mistakes would make it into the semi-finals,” he added. The first leg ended two-all despite the fact that Sabah were leading 2-0 at half time, only to concede two late goals that saw the match eventually end in a draw.

Sabah only need a simple win to cruise into the last four, but if the match ends in a three-all draw or higher, then they would be in the semis as well on the away goals rule.

As for Perlis a scoreless or one-all draw will see them through.

But if the match ended in a two-all draw then it will proceed into extra time or even penalty kicks.

This will be Sabah’s fourth consecutive away match, which started off with a Premier League tie against Kelantan that ended in a one-all draw, followed by the shock 1-2 defeat to KL Plus FC, also a Premier League team.

Then they edged Police 4-3 to book a quarter-final ticket in the prestigious Malaysia Cup challenge.

Like what Rahman says, this could be a fruitful outing for the Rhinos in Kangar if they play to their true strength and as a big team.

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