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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

DOWN BUT NOT OUT


KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria insists Sabah may be down, but not out!

He said that the duration of the League is still a long way to go and that anything can happen between now until the end of the season.

“It’s still early days. There are another 18 matches to go, so I really hope the fans will not count us out (of the race for the Premier League crown) just yet,” the Rhinos’ team manager said.

Sabah succumbed to their second straight defeat on Monday after losing 2-0 to the visiting Kuala Muda Naza at the Tawau Sports Complex, which was their first home defeat of the season.

Kelantan inflicted Sabah with their first defeat last week after losing 2-1 in an away battle.

But Rahman believes nothing is over as far as the Rhinos’ challenge is concerned.

“I firmly believe that this team have what it takes to bounce back,” Rahman said of the Rhinos’ two defeats in the space of four days.

“What is important for us is to recover quickly (from our back-to-back defeats). Once we do that, then I think we will be there challenging for the crown,” he added.

Rahman admitted it has been a tough four days for the Rhinos.

“Having to travel so much in between and playing two matches I think it really affected the players.

“You see on (last) Thursday, we traveled to Kota Baru, Kelantan and played a game on Friday. We returned home on Saturday and on Sunday we travelled again to Tawau for the Kuala Muda clash.

“I’m not looking for excuses, but we have to understand that the traveling that we have had is taking its toll on the players.

“We just could not find a day to have a nice rest after a long journey. Anyway, I still believe that the boys will not give up so easily because they know pretty well that this is their rice bowl,” said Rahman.

Against Kuala Muda Naza, Rahman said they had enough chances to take the game into their own hands, but they were so unfortunate not to take the lead despite having numerous goal-scoring chances, including a penalty miss.

“Last night (Monday), there was nothing wrong with our tactics or game plan. We were just unlucky not to convert the chances that we had.

“If we managed to convert one of those chances into a goal, or convert the penalty, I think the game could have been different altogether,” said Rahman, referring to Nafuzi Zain’s penalty miss.

“In any game … if you don’t take your chances well … such is the consequence you are faced with,” Rahman added, while admitting they certainly need a prolific goal-scorer.

With these two results, Rahman hopes that the players realise that there is no place for complacency.

“I want them to realise that we have to produce the results and show consistency not only in our games, but also results.

At the same time, Rahman also thanked the Tawau fans for the support they have shown to the team.

“On behalf of the team, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the fans because they have shown undivided support to the team. Even when we were down, they still rallied behind us, which is very touching. I’m very disappointed that we could not win the game for them,” said Rahman.

Jose Antonio Vega turned hero for the visiting Kuala Muda Naza by netting a brace. He netted the opener in the 73rd minute before adding the second four minutes later.

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