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Monday, February 25, 2008


KOTA KINABALU: If their first round encounter is anything to go by, then the Sabah vs National Under-19 (Harimau Muda) clash at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tonight will be like ‘David versus Goliath’.

In the final game of the first round last Friday, the Rhinos chalked up an easy 2-0 victory over their rather inexperienced opponents.

Tonight will be their second meeting in the space of four days as the second round challenge resumes without any break, even at a time when the country is currently holding its general election.

Despite having won the first encounter with ease, Rahman Zakaria said they will not take any chances as he believes that the young national side has what it takes to hurt them.

“We will not take them lightly and that is for sure. Even though we did not have any trouble in scoring (against them) but the ball is round and anything can happen.

“They are a young side and have lots of energy to burn. They can run for the 90 minutes and we must be aware that they have been given international exposure.

“So we have to be at our best to repeat our winning feat over them,” said Rahman.

Last Friday, the Rhinos registered their fourth consecutive victory and Rahman is convinced they should be able to extend it to five in a row.

“As long as we play our own game, I’m sure we can get a positive result from this match. But since this will be an away fixture, so it would not be an easy game. However, victory is certainly within our reach,” he added.

Rahman hinted that the Rhinos’ head coach Drago Mamic is unlikely to make any changes to his winning side with Brazilian striker Andre Scotti Ossemer and Bobby Gonzales expected to spearhead the Rhinos’ attack together with Englishman Jamie Phoenix – who was impressive in the win over the Harimau Muda.

In midfield, Mohd Nafuzi Zain, Zuraindey Jumai, Wong Sai Kong and Zulamri Muhamad are likely to be maintained and the same goes for Dragic Dalibor, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban and Mohd Munir Amran, who will be the driving force at the back with the young Irwan Jamil, the last man of the team.

After the completion of the first round, the Rhinos occupy fourth placing in the standings on 23 points, eight points behind League leaders KL Plus FC.

Johor Pasir Gudang are second with a better goal difference than third placed Kuala Muda Naza. Both teams are level on 27 points. Kelantan are fifth on 22 points, but they have a game in hand as their first round fixture against PKNS Selangor was postponed.

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