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Friday, May 18, 2007

Rhinos aim to break winless streak

Kota Kinabalu: After two straight draws, Sabah are gunning for a win when they meet Kelantan in the Premier League on Friday at the Sultan Mohd. IV Stadium in Kota Bahru.

Sabah Football Association (Safa) Vice-President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang said the boys are ready to bounce back to their winning ways.

Sabah played to a scoreless draw against Kuala Muda Naza and more recently to a two-all draw against Perlis.

The disappointment against Perlis in the FA Cup quarter-final, especially after leading 2-0 only for the Northern Lions to claw back and equalise, should make Sabah coach Drago Mamic see the need for the team to fully focus and not slack off even when they are leading comfortably.

Maybe the absence of defender Ronny Harun, who is currently training with the national team, has rattled Sabah's defence in the last couple of matches.

It is not clear whether Ronny will play against Kelantan, but that should not be a major obstacle for Mamic as Sabah have several young and experienced defenders who are capable of covering his position.

The seven-point gap with the top two teams, MyTeam and PDRM (both on 31 points), means that Sabah must not drop anymore points if they want to challenge for promotion to the Super League next season.

A draw may only be a dent in Sabah's hopes but a loss in Kelantan will mean the team can say goodbye to promotion, what more if both My Team and PDRM win their respective fixtures.

Gimbang was confident that the players fielded against Kelantan would not disappoint and will give their best in the match.

At the moment, Sabah are third in the league with 24 points from six wins, six draws and two losses while Kelantan occupy sixth place with 17 points.

Playing away from home will hopefully be a blessing in disguise for Sabah, as they have an away record that is surprisingly good.

Strikers Charles Obi and Prince Ijiebor Ative are expected to start against Kelantan and both would like very much to add to their goal tally.

Obi, who failed to score against Kuala Muda and Perlis, currently has scored 11 goals in the league while Ative has scored two.

Kelantan on the other hand are likely to place their hopes for goals on their Argentinian player Gustavo Romeiro who has four goals to his credit this season as well as Saufi Saadi and Zairul Fitri Ishak.

Sabah's probable line-up: Irwan Jamil (GK), P. Rajes, Chow Chee Wing, Hardy Parsi, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, Prince Ijiebor Ative, S. Sunder, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Prince Eboagwu Etuew, Henry Soimpon, Charles Obi.

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