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Thursday, March 13, 2008

SABAH VS POLICE


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will meet Super League strugglers Police in the second round of the FA Cup challenge. Sabah, who received a first round bye, will play the first leg encounter away on March 21, while the return leg at the Likas Stadium is scheduled for March 27. The 1995 champions Sabah are gaining momentum in the Premier League challenge in the fight for promotion, and are currently fifth in the 13-team standings on 27 points, 10 points behind leaders KL Plus, and only six points away from second placed Kuala Muda Naza.

As for Police, the 2006-2007 Premier League champions are struggling in the Super League and are now fighting for survival. They are currently 11th placed in the 13-team Super League after merely managing to collect 14 points from 14 games played thus far. They are only one point away from the drop zone currently occupied by Sarawak (13 points), while Penang languish at the bottom of the standings on nine points.

Meanwhile, Rahman Zakaria praised his charges following their comeback victory over Melaka on Monday. Rahman said the Rhinos’ never-say-die attitude enabled the team to collect the valuable points from the away trip. It seemed that Sabah were buried after 23 minutes of play when they conceded two easy goals with Kofi Estiba netting for the homesters. Kofi struck the opener in the seventh minute before adding his second in the 23rd minute.

But Sabah’s Brazilian striker Andre Scotti Ossemer managed to level the scoreline as he struck twice from the spot. Sabah earned their first spot kick in the 31st minute while the second came in the 39th minute. “Melaka were very aggressive right from the start and they took a 2-0 lead after capitalising on our sloppy defending. “Andre was excellent on the night. He was brought down twice inside the box resulting in the two spot kicks.

“The match could have ended there (when Melaka were two goals up), but I’m glad to see that the players never showed any signs of giving up and our determination finally paid off as we were rewarded with two spot kicks, which Andre converted. I’m happy with how the team responded after falling behind. Rahman said the Rhinos were a much better side in the second half where Andre completed his hat-trick with his 69th minute effort. “The players showed great character in implementing the game plan and fought a successful come-from-behind win,” added Rahman. Rahman went on to say that the players must now focus and maintain their impressive unbeaten streak to ensure keeping the pace with the teams above them.

“We must be consistent in the future matches … I’m confident we will go far with the players in top shape and most of the players are free from injury,” he said. Sabah remain in fifth spot of the league on 27 points from 14 games and trail leaders KL Plus FC by 10 points, who have played a game more. Sabah will take on Felda United FC of Kuala Lumpur next at the Likas Stadium on Mar 14.

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