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Saturday, May 26, 2007

A POINT WILL DO


KOTA KINABALU: A draw is all what the Rhinos need to qualify for the Malaysia Cup quarterfinals when they take on out of contention Police in their final Group C game at the MPS Stadium in Selayang tonight. Despite the seemingly simplest of tasks, Rahman Zakaria was quick to point out that they are not taking any chances and that they won’t take their opponents lightly.

“We are not there yet. So there is no reason for us to take this match lightly,” said the Rhinos’ team manager. “We will need to give our best and play our hearts out to try and win the game even though a draw should be good enough to send us into the next round. “It has been a disappointing trip for us thus far because we have dropped valuable points in the Premier League challenge. But then again, this is a Malaysia Cup challenge, and it is a totally different ball game.

“So I hope the players stay focused and try to continue Sabah’s fine momentum in this Cup campaign. “They know what they must do to progress and I hope they will do a good job tomorrow,” Rahman added. At the same time, Rahman also called on the men in black to be more consistent in their decisions.

Rahman felt that the below par refereeing was among the factors that denied them from collecting maximum points in their last two League games. “It was so obvious that the referees made questionable decisions against us in the last two matches. The referees tend to award fouls too easily on our players. In this game, I hope the referee will be more fair and consistent.

According to Rahman, what really irked him was when one of the referees in their last match uttered what can be described as racist remarks against Sabah’s Nigerian hitman Charles Obi.

Rahman said Obi told him that this particular referee was alleged to have said to Obi: “This is Malaysia and it is better you go back to your country.” He added that they are considering lodging an official complaint to the FA of Malaysia regarding the matter. The Malaysia Cup is the only trophy missing from the Rhinos’ cabinet and Rahman believes that this could be their year. But first, he said they must overcome this final group hurdle before they could think of something greater.

For the record, Sabah edged Police 2-1 at the same venue in the first round. Kedah, who have already cemented their quarterfinal berth, will take on Perak, who like Sabah need one point to confirm their quarterfinal tickets. Perak and Sabah have 15 points but the Rhinos sit on third place with an inferior goal difference while Kedah have 19 points. The other teams who have booked their quarterfinal berths are Selangor from Group A, Negeri Sembilan Naza and Terengganu from Group B. The eight quarterfinal places will be filled by the top two teams in each group as well as the two highest ranked third placed teams.

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