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Monday, September 03, 2007


KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Anifah Aman wants the Rhinos to win their return leg battle against Perak for the Tawau fans.

He said that is one of the ways for them to say thank you to the Tawau fans who have been very supportive.

“I would like to say a big thank you to all the Tawau fans. They have been great and marvellous. Their support has been a great help to the team. So now we will try to win the game for them,” the Sabah FA President said.

Anifah then hinted that if Sabah win the Malaysia Cup, Tawau would be their first destination on their way back home in order to show their appreciation for what they have done for the team.

The support shown by the Tawau fans towards the Rhinos in the Malaysia Cup semi-final against Perak on Saturday was beyond words.

Even when the Rhinos were down 1-0 after former international striker Mohd Khalid Jamlus had put the visitors ahead with an overhead kick when the match was only 21 minutes old, they just didn’t give up any hope.

Their screams, cheers and everything finally saw the Rhinos lift their game and with one minute remaining before the first-half break, Sabah drew level when Charles Obi coolly connected Chow Chee Wing’s cross to score the equaliser.

However, the scoreline remained one-all until the final whistle where both teams will meet again in the return leg at the Perak Stadium on Tuesday, which is likely to be shown live on either RTM 1 or RTM 2.

The fault to the switchboard at the Likas Stadium was in fact a blessing in disguise for the team, as it has been almost a decade since the Rhinos have seen this kind of support since our glory days in the mid 90s.

On Saturday it was the Rhinos’ second match at the stadium, with the historical first being the return leg of the quarter-final 3-1 victory over Negeri Sembilan NAZA.

Fans young and old thronged the stadium as early as 6pm and by about 7.30pm the seats were all fully occupied with thousands of fans stranded outside the stadium as the tickets were sold out (13,000).

According to Anifah, their battle for a place in the final is not over and he is quietly confident the team will make their fourth final appearance.

“Although we will be playing the return leg tie away from home, I still believe that we can make it. With high fighting spirit, commitment and determination, I’m sure we will achieve our target.

“I have spoken to the players and I want them to bring the kind of spirit that the Tawau fans have shown during our two outings there (Tawau) to Perak.

On another note, Anifah admitted that he was not happy with the way the referee handled the match.

He said that it was too obvious that the referee made dubious decisions, with most of them against Sabah.

On one occasion a lunging challenge by Perak defender Ahmad Azlan on Sabah’s Zulamri Muhamad did not even earn the former a warning. The challenge could have put Zulamri’s future in jeopardy, but the referee took no notice of the incident despite the fact that it occurred right in front of him.

And that is not all as there were so many incidents where his decisions were against Sabah.

“This is one of the things that we really need to look into. If this thing keeps on happening, it will only kill the game.

“The fans have their limit, and if this problem is left unchecked … the development of the sport will be at slow pace.

“As I have said earlier, the fans in Tawau have been excellent. But if you let them see this kind of refereeing, I don’t know how long they can stand this dubious refereeing,” said Anifah.

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