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Saturday, November 10, 2007

STRONG BATTLE FOR FIRST-TEAM ACTION


KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos take on Tawau Selection in a friendly to be played at the Tawau Sports Complex field tonight. And this will be another opportunity for the players to prove their worth to earn a place in the first team when the Premier League kicks off next month. The Rhinos will kick start their campaign playing away to Armed Forces on Dec 17 before playing their first home game against debutantes Proton FC at the Tawau Sports Complex on Dec 28.

Rahman Zakaria sees that competition for first team action for the new season will be tough. “I’m happy to note that a majority of our players are almost of the same quality. In order to be in the top 11, 16 or 18, they must keep the momentum going. They also have to show it in training as well as in friendly games.

“With the Premier League only kicking off next month, I think there is ample time for them to prove their worth to the head coach (Drago Mamic), and tomorrow’s friendly will be no exception as we will be looking at their performances,” the Rhinos’ team manager said. Commenting on the match, he said: “We are not really looking at the result, but what we want to see is the players showing what they are capable of. We want them to adapt well to the system we play.”

“This friendly will also be an opportunity for the head coach to know the players more and to see what needs to be rectified ahead of the big kick off,” said Rahman.

Rahman also said that they would also be trying out the import players in the match. At the moment, he pointed out that there are currently five foreign players undergoing trials with the team including two Senegalese strikers – Leum Abboul Karim and Sylla Pape Birane, who arrived yesterday morning.

The other three are strikers in Nigerian Obasi Churchill, Brazilian Oliveira and Englishman Jamie Phoenix. “This will be an opportunity for these (foreign) players to prove their worth as well,” said Rahman. “With the delay in the kick off (Premier League), it gives us more time to pick the best players we can get. We will not rush into signing any foreign player because we want to make sure he fits well into the team,” Rahman added. At the moment, Bosnian defender Dragic Dalibor is certain to don the Rhinos colours, and the Rhinos are looking for two more foreign players to fill in the three foreign import quotas for each team.

On the local players, Rahman said that it is a done deal, pointing out that upon signing the two foreign players, it would complete their jigsaw puzzle for the new season.

All the local players with the exception of Mohd Radzi Hussin, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, David Johnny, Ebby Roy, Bobby Gonzalez and Rezuan Radzy Muhammad will make the trip to Tawau.

Radzi is sick while Tharmini is out injured. As for Bobby, he is currently with the national under-23 team while Ebby, David and Rezuan would have to work extra hard in fighting for a place in at least the top 18.

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