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Monday, December 17, 2007

GUNNING FOR A WINNING START


KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria wants the Rhinos to make an early impression when they kick off their Premier League 2007-2008 challenge against the Armed Forces at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium tonight.

He said it would be good for the team to start their season on a winning note as it could help instill confidence in the team.

“We have been preparing the team for about two months or so, and I’m delighted to note that our preparations under our head coach Drago Mamic have been solid.

“So now it is time for the team to show that they are ready and capable to compete not only in the Premier League, but also in the FA Cup or the Malaysia Cup,” the Rhinos’ team manager said.

“Although this is only the first game, it is important for us to get cracking from the first whistle.

“I hope the players will play their hearts out and try to get full points out of this game.

“I’m happy to see that the players are in tip top condition and we will parade our best squad to get the best possible result,” he added.

“As we can see in training, all of them look to be in the fighting mood. Spirit in the team is pretty high as well.

“But then again, I would like to remind the players to stay focused. We need to be alert as nothing is won until the final whistle is blown.

Rahman hinted that all the players are there for options, including new foreign signing Jamie Phoenix.

“This time around, there is certainly no room for complacency among the players. Competition in the team will be very competitive. They have to fight for a place in the first 18 and then the first 11.”

Nevertheless, Rahman said he believes Drago has already identified the players to guide the Rhinos to a winning start.

For the opener, Drago has named an 18-member squad for the trip with Irwan Jamil certainly starting ahead of fellow goalkeeper Mohd Salawi Jasad, who made the first 18 after second choice custodian Harold John was down with fever.

Skipper Rosdin Wasli, Dragic Dalibor, Munir Imran, Wong Sai Kong, Zulamri Muhamad, Zuraindey Jumai, Chow Chee Wing, Nafuzi Zain, and Jamie are also likely to see first-team action, while either Zainizam Marjan or Bobby Gonzalez would fill the remaining one slot for the first team.

Salvester Sindeh, Eddie Gapil, Radzi Hussin, Azrul Ejati Damsah and Hardy Parsi also made the trip to the national capital.

For the new season, there will be 13 teams competing in the Premier League, including debutantes Proton FC, Felda United FC and the national Under-19 squad.

Melaka, who got demoted from the Super League are also in the fray, while the remaining teams are Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Johor, Kelantan, Selangor PKNS, Kuala Muda Naza of Kedah, Shahzan Muda of Pahang and KL Plus FC.

At the end of the season, the top two teams would gain automatic promotion to the Super League.

Elsewhere tonight, Kuala Muda Naza will take on KL Plus in Alor Star – Johor will take on new boys Felda United FC Johor Baru – Kuala Lumpur will be at home to Melaka in Cheras

The remaining match will see Proton FC take on Shahzan Muda in Petaling Jaya.

Another match, Kelantan versus Selangor PKNS, which was to take place in Kota Baru, has been postponed.

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