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Friday, August 10, 2007

DOWN BUT NOT OUT


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah may be down, but they are not out!

They refuse to throw in the towel just yet, not when they know pretty well that there is another 90 minutes to settle things once and for all.

Despite losing the first leg encounter, they believe they can recover from the defeat and eventually march into the next stage of the tournament.

The Rhinos went down 1-0 to Negeri Sembilan NAZA in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium on Wednesday, no thanks to Marian Juhas’ 53rd minute strike.

Even Rahman Zakaria believes they have an open chance to claim a place in the semi-finals.

He insisted that the battle is far from over and that they are still very much in the race for a place in the last four.

The Rhinos’ team manager believes his charges have what it takes to turn the table on the same opponents when they meet in the return leg tie in six days time.

“I have the confidence in the players. I firmly believe that they can do it. They have shown it in the first leg encounter and with a little bit of luck, I’m pretty sure, we will go one step further in this prestigious and oldest competition in the country,” Rahman said.

“What we need for the return leg tie is a big crowd to help spur the players. We really need that extra support from the fans. Their presence will surely help the team play better with more confidence and spirit.

“Although, we failed to gain anything from the first leg, but I can see the burning desire among the players that they want to go further in the competition.

“We are all frustrated and disappointed for not being able to do the job in Negeri Sembilan, and I can understand their (players) feeling because they have tried their best and shown some convincing stuff throughout the game.

“They played really well and we had the possession for like 90 per cent of the game. We also created enough chances to take the game into our hands.

“I can say that it was our game all along. We created like five or six scoring chances but unfortunately we failed to finish any of them off.

“Obi (Charles) and Dragic (Dalidor) were among those presented with goal-scoring opportunities.

“In one instance, Obi had an open goal at his expense, but he shot wide. On another day he could have easily put that chance behind the net. I think lady luck just shied away from us on the night.

“But as the saying goes, there is no point of crying over spilt milk, because what is important now is to prepare ourselves for the return leg and do the talking on the battlefield.”

Sabah will meet Negeri Sembilan NAZA in the return leg on August 15 at the Likas Stadium.

If they can get the better of their opponents (Aug 15), they will face either Perlis or Perak in the last four.

Perlis are holding a two-goal cushion after their first leg victory in Kangar.

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