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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


KOTA KINABALU: The underdogs tag suits Sabah when they take on last year’s losing finalists Perlis in the first leg of the FA Cup quarter-finals at the Likas Stadium tonight.

This is due to the fact that Perlis are a Super League outfit and are also the reigning Malaysia Cup champions.

Perlis are currently fifth placed in the 13-team Super League.

But despite Perlis’ elite status, Rahman Zakaria still believes that eyeing a comfortable cushion for the return leg on May 29 is still pretty much a realistic target.

The Rhinos’ team manager said that as long as they play to their true strength, capability and wholeheartedly, winning by a comfortable margin is within reach.

“We respect them for who they are, but on the other hand, a Cup game is always different than the league and anything can happen.

“They may be from the Super League, but we are not afraid to face them. Furthermore, they are not the first Super League side that we are facing, because prior to this, we have also played against Super League outfits such as Pahang, Perak, Kedah, as well as Sarawak, and we have been getting the results,” Rahman said.

“I’m quite convinced of our chances. The players are in high spirit, and are determined to do the damage on the opponents.

“I think our head coach Drago Mamic has his own way on how to tackle Perlis, and so far we have been doing brilliantly. His tactical approach has been working out well, and I hope it will be the same tomorrow.

“A comfortable victory is all what we will be looking for in this game,” Rahman said.

Sabah will be at full strength for the clash with the return of midfielder Rosdin Wasli, while Ronny Harun, who is with the national team is the only player missing.

Perlis will also be without two of their regulars in Azlan Ismail and Fauzi Nan.

Fauzi is also with the national team, but Azlan, who was supposed to be with the national squad but declined the call-up, is believed to have been barred from playing for Perlis tonight.

It will be a homecoming game for three ex-Rhinos, namely Md Reithuddin Awang Emran, Joey Ryan Gundok and Madzalan Emoi.

And it is interesting to see whether any one of the trio will feature in the coach Hj Abdul Rahman Ibrahim’s game plan.

But as far as Drago is concerned, he is certain to field his best attacking pair of striker-in-chief Charles Obi and Prince Ativie Guy to spearhead the Rhinos’ attack, with Rosdin and Zulamri Muhammad likely to be the men at the middle of the park with Chow Chee Wing on the right and P. Rajes on the left.

Ahmad Tharmini Saiban and Prince Eboagwu Etuwe will be shouldering the responsibilities together with S. Suresh and either Burhan Ajui or Hardy Charles Parsi at the back.

Irwan Jamil will be retained as the Rhinos No 1 custodian.

But if the Rhinos are to keep a clean sheet, then they must watch out for Perlis hitman Phillemon Chepita, who has nine goals to his credit in the Super League.

The game is likely to go the Rhinos way provided that they play a fast flowing game like they did against the top sides such as Pahang and Perak.

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