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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


KOTA KINABALU: The new season has yet to kick-off, but Rahman Zakaria has already set his target on promotion, predicting that the upcoming season could end well for the Rhinos.

After two failed attempts in their bid to claim promotion to the Super League, the Rhinos team manager believes this time around they will surely be there to fight for promotion as well as for any title at stake in the M-League.

“It has been two frustrating seasons for us, but I can see that this squad has what it takes to make Sabah proud,” said Rahman.

“We have young and experienced players in the squad, and compared to last year, I would say that this time we have a much more balanced side.

“Besides recruiting new players, our youngsters will also be one year older and this will surely be a big plus for the team,” he added.

When met at the Rhinos’ friendly against Kota Belud Selection over the weekend, Rahman went on to say that they have strong local players as well as local imports.

He said the presence of three foreign imports would only add the much needed strength or rather spice into the team.

At the moment, he said Bosnia-Herzegovina defender Dragic Dalibor is the only import player that is almost certain to don the Rhinos colours for the new season, while the other two will only be known at the earliest by next weekend as the FA is still waiting for the arrival of two or three more foreign strikers, including one striker from Serbia.

On the local front, Rahman said it is a done deal, with Eddie Gapil, former Beverly FC midfielder Zuraindey Jumai, Hisamuddin, Nafuzi Zain and Wong Sai Kong the latest addition to the squad.

The rest are from last season’s squad – namely Irwan Jamil, Munir Amran, Chow Chee Wing, Rosdin Wasli, Zulamri Muhammad, Bobby Gonzalez, Mohd Radzi Hussin, Harold John, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Zainizam Marjan, Salvester Sindeh, Henry Parsi, Hardy Charles Parsi, Rezuan Muhammad Radzy, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, David Johnny and Ebby Roy Raimon.

Currently there is only one foreign player left trying his luck with the team – striker Obasi Churchil Emmanuel.

Obasi scored two goals including one from the spot in the game where the Rhinos won 4-1.

But whether his feat is good enough to land him a contract with the team – only time will tell.

“It was a good friendly,” said Rahman. “Although we were playing a relatively unknown side, but at least it helps us rectify whatever weaknesses there are in the team.”

Kota Belud Selection stunned the Rhinos when they took the lead inside the first quarter of the game.

But Bobby Gonzalez scored the equaliser for his side from close range, before Radzi Hussin put them in front with a cool finish late in the first half which ended 2-1 in favour of the State team.

Then after the break, Obasi struck the third goal for Sabah from the spot before netting his second soon afterwards.

Rahman said next they will take on DPMM in Labuan in a tie that has been rescheduled to Nov 4 instead of Nov 3 initially.

After the DPMM date, Rahman said the Rhinos will play an Indonesian club in Tawau on Nov 10.

“On behalf of the Sabah FA as well as the team, I would like to thank the Safa Kota Belud headed by Asrin Sadi for making this match possible.

“We would also like to thank the fans for their presence. The response was pretty encouraging, and we were delighted to see them,” said Rahman.

Outgoing Sabah FA President Datuk Anifah Aman was among the more than 3,000 spectators at the Kota Belud Town Padang.

Others present were Assistant Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Japlin Akim and Kota Belud District Officer Najib Muntok as well as other community leaders.

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