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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

DRAGO CONFIDENT


KOTA KINABALU: Drago Mamic says he is satisfied with the Rhinos’ performances thus far, reminding his charges to look ahead! The Croatian said as long as they can keep the momentum going it will surely help make their promotion target a genuine thing.

“Now it is important for us to focus on what is ahead of us and to keep trying hard to improve,” said the Rhinos’ head coach.

“I can say that this is the crucial part of the season and it is important for us to keep up the good work that we have done so far,” said Drago, referring to the Rhinos’ two victories and two draws in their first four opening matches of the 2007-2008 season.

“I think we are in a good position now and we must try to maintain it (position) at least until the end of the first round.

At the moment, Drago said no teams in the Premier League dare to claim they have the upper hand as far as gaining promotion to the Super League is concerned.

“From now on it will all be about consistency. In the next several games, we would also know the strengths of each team. But that does not really bother me, because I’m more concerned about our own team and how we perform.

Nevertheless, Drago is happy to note that the team did pretty well despite the fact that they played with only one foreign player in their last three matches.

Sabah have already hired two foreign players in Bosnia-Herzegovina defender Dragic Dalibor and Englishman Jamie Phoenix.

Jamie scored in his Premier League debut in the 4-0 win over Armed Forces in the opener, but was sidelined since then due to injury, while for Dragic he had featured for the Rhinos in the last four games.

“We were playing against teams that played three foreign players and I’m very happy with the boys for being able to handle the pressure.

“Even with one foreign player, I’m proud to note that we have scored six goals and conceded three in our last three outings.

“This shows that our local-based players are up for the challenge and that the presence of the foreign players will only compliment the team.

“As I have said all along, I want a strong base of local players and I’m very glad they have shown me that. And if we have all our foreign players in the fray, I’m pretty sure we will be a stronger side,” said Drago.

However, Drago would have to wait a little longer before he could really parade his best squad this season.

The team are still searching for the third foreign signing, while Jamie has yet to fully recover from injury.

The Albanian striker who was plying his trade in the Croatian League before coming to attend trials with the Rhinos failed to impress Drago.

“I know him. He was a good striker, but some players just could not take it any longer when they are 35 years old.

Drago also admitted that he made a strong recommendation to the team management to sign the Albanian, but had a change of heart after seeing him (the Albanian) in action against the State Reserve League squad.

“When I first saw him playing three years ago, he was a superb striker, but now he seems to be a totally different player,” he said of the Albanian striker.

“I have told him I’m sorry, but you are not up to our requirements.”

Sabah currently occupy third place in the 13-team Premier League standings, two points behind league leaders Johor Pasir Gudang who are on top with 10 points, while Kuala Muda Naza are second on nine points.

Sabah’s next game is an away tie against Kelantan on Friday.

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