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Friday, May 18, 2007

Rhinos must win to keep promotion hopes alive


KOTA KINABALU: Go all out for a win is the order of the day for the Rhinos as they take on Kelantan in a tricky Premier League tie at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru tonight.

In fact a victory is a must for the Rhinos in order to keep their promotion hopes alive after dropping two valuable points against Kuala Muda Naza in their last home game.

“This is a game that we must win at all costs. When you look at the standings, we know it is a clear cut thing … win or bust,” said Datuk Lawrence Gimbang.

“There is no place for blunders … and it is as simple as that. They have to be at their best and play their hearts out, not for 30 … 70 minutes but they must fight until the final whistle.”

“Mathematically, we are still in the race (for promotion) and for that reason, we must try to win as many games that are left to be played.

“Although we are trailing by seven points at the moment, in football you never know because anything can happen,” the Sabah FA Deputy President added.

Gimbang said this when met at the launching of the AFC Under-13 Festival of Football at the Le Meridien Hotel in the State Capital yesterday.

Including tonight’s clash, there are five matches left to be played for the Rhinos.

However, winning all the five matches would not be good enough to earn one of the two promotion slots to the Malaysia Super League should the top two teams – UPB-MyTEAM and Police maintain their winning run.

UPB-MyTEAM currently stay on top of the standings on 31 points having a better goal average than Police, who are also on 31. However, Police have two games in hand.

Sabah on the other hand occupy third place on 24 points, but have played one match lesser than UPB-MyTEAM.

“I want the players to realise that they must fight until the end no matter how slim our chances are. Nothing is over until the final whistle … so I hope the players will solider on and try to win this tie.

“This is going to be a tough game. From my experience, it is never easy to play against Kelantan especially in their own den. Nevertheless, I still believe victory is within our reach.

“I also hope that they will not repeat the same mistake again as like against Perlis in the FA Cup. We all know that the game could have been ours, but we gave away two goals late in the game. This shouldn’t be happening. I hope the players will stay alert until the whistle is blown,” Gimbang said.

For tonight’s clash, any major changes to the Rhinos first team squad are unlikely, with striker-in-chief Charles Obi again spearheading the attack together with Prince Ativie Guy, while Rosdin Wasli, who missed the FA Cup clash against Perlis, should be back and could start the game in midfield alongside Hardy Charles Parsi or Zulamri Muhammad, with P. Rajes at the left of midfield and Chow Chee Wing on the right.

Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, Prince Eboagwu Etuwe, S. Suresh and Burhan Ajui are likely to start at the Rhinos’ backline.

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