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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rhinos gunning for comfortable cushion


KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos are gunning for a comfortable cushion when they take on Negeri Sembilan NAZA in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals.

Rahman Zakaria said they would try not to return home empty-handed from the tie to be played at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi tonight.

While predicting that the match is going to be a tough one, the Rhinos’ team manager believes the team have what it takes to gain an advantage for the return leg on August 15 at the Likas Stadium.

“This is a game that we can win, but we need to really focus on it. We have to fully concentrate for the entire game and if we do that I’m quite optimistic we will get the much needed advantage for the return leg,” said Rahman, when contacted in Paroi yesterday.

He went on to say that the Malaysia Cup is a totally different ball game than the Premier League or the FA Cup.

“We have always risen to the occasion in this competition.

“Furthermore, this is the oldest competition in the country and we will certainly not want to waste the opportunity to go further in the competition.

“The players know what is ahead of them, and they also know the challenges ahead of them,” Rahman said.

“The team trained pretty hard for the past few weeks and I’m happy to note that they are in fine shape and really looking forward to the clash.

“The coach (Drago Mamic) has his game plan and as long as the players can execute them on the battlefield, our chances of winning the battle will be as good as our opponents,” said Rahman.

On Negeri Sembilan’s 7-0 drubbing by newly crowned Super League champions Kedah recently, Rahman said that is not an excuse for them to take them (NS Naza) for granted.

“You see after the thrashing … they came back and managed to hold Johor FC to a one-all draw. “Furthermore, like what I have just said, this tournament is a different ball game and has it owns magic.

“And if we want to go further, the only thing that we need to do is to give our best and play as a team,” he added.

Rahman also said that they will be at full strength to face NS NAZA with the exception of Munir Amran and Henry Parsi.

Munir will be serving his automatic one-match suspension for his red card offence against Selangor PKNS, while Henry is with the National Under-23 squad.

Rahman also hopes that striker in chief Charles Obi will continue with his scoring feat.

In their last game (against PKNS), the Nigerian striker netted a brace. However, his two-goal feat failed to help 10-man Sabah settle for at least a draw after they were edged by PKNS 3-2 in their final Premier League tie.

And the Rhinos will also be strengthened by the presence of new signings Brazilian striker Felisberto de Oliveira Freira Jr and Bosnian defender Dragic Dalidor.

The duo made their debut in the defeat to PKNS.

Sabah marched into the quarter-finals after finishing among the two best third placed teams in the four-group competition.

They finished behind Kedah and Perak, while NS Naza topped Group B.

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