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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rhinos out to cement third spot


Kota Kinabalu: Sabah continue their quest for a top three finish in the Premier League when they travel to face the Armed Forces (ATM) on Tuesday at the Selayang MPS Stadium.

After a hard-fought one-all draw against Super League leaders Kedah in the Malaysia Cup on Saturday at Likas, the Rhinos go into the match slightly battered but nevertheless are expected to show the same determination and never-say-die attitude against the host.

ATM who beat Sabah in their first round encounter at Likas will want to repeat their success to improve their position in the league. At the moment they are occupying eighth spot with 12 points from three wins, three draws and six losses.

Sabah on the other hand are in third place with 20 points, four points behind second-placed UPB-MyTeam FC (24 points) and five points behind leaders PDRM (25 points).

However, Sabah have several players who are doubtful for the match against ATM and that may give coach Drago Mamic a selection headache in choosing his starting eleven.

Fist choice goalkeeper Irwan Jamil who was rushed to the hospital after a collision with a Kedah player on Saturday was reported to be in good condition but it remains to be seen if Mamic will field the 20-year old against ATM.

If Irwan does not make it to the starting eleven, Mamic will have to rely on another youngster Harold John, who replaced Irwan against Kedah, to start in goal.

Another concern for the coach is Nigerian striker Prince Ijiebor Guy Ativie who missed the match against Kedah due to illness. Should Ativie fail to recover in time to face ATM, Mamic will have to decide on partnering leading goalscorer Charles Obi with Sylvester Sindih or play Obi as a lone striker.

It is also unclear if Zainizam Marjan who was given a rare start by Mamic against Kedah would keep his place in the starting eleven as his performance on Saturday showed that he was still far from regaining full match fitness.

That could give other players such as veteran Henry Soimpon, S. Sunder or Bobby Gonzales the chance to figure in Mamic's plan.

In defence, Ronny Harun would want to justify his call-up to the national team with another good and solid performance and with the Asian Cup just around the corner he will certainly be aiming to impress.

Sabah's probable line-up: Irwan Jamil (GK); Ronny Harun, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, Prince Eboagwu Etuew, P.Rajes, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Chow Chee Wing, Rosdin Wasli, Slyvester Sindih, Charles Obi, Julamri Mohd.

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