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Monday, March 17, 2008

TOUGH ENCOUNTER


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah take on Selangor PKNS tonight determined to collect maximum points in their pursuit of Super League promotion next season. The Premier League tie to be played at the MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya will also see the Rhinos hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to eight matches. But the Rhinos know it is not going to be an easy night.

Team manager Rahman Zakaria hopes the team will not waste the opportunity to keep pace with the top teams. “They defeated us in Tawau in the first round, so we must make sure it won’t happen again this time. We are in the crucial stage of the league and we must try to win every game from now on.

The 0-1 home defeat inflicted by Mohd Fadzil Hashim’s goal was one of the three losses Sabah suffered this season. “I believe with our current form we will be able to get the points. It was very unfortunate for us in the first round but we have long recovered from it and our league position speaks volumes for that. “We must win the game in order to have more edge and confidence because of the crucial matches ahead of us, including in the FA Cup.

PKNS Selangor, currently eighth in the standings, will be the lowest ranked opponents that the Rhinos will take on in the next few weeks. After the PKNS date, Sabah will resume their FA Cup challenge by taking on struggling Super League side Police on Mar 21 (away) and Mar 27 (home). The FA Cup matches will be followed by league games against leaders KL Plus FC on Mar 30 at the Likas Stadium, before traveling to face second placed Kuala Muda Naza on April 4.

Then they host Kelantan, who are just one point behind in fifth place, at the Likas Stadium on April 11 before meeting third placed Johor Pasir Gudang away on April 14.

“I believe Sabah can do it … the team are capable (to win) either at home or away,” he added. For the match tonight, Sabah will again miss the services of injured captain Rosdin Wasli who is only expected to return to the side in two weeks. Mohd Nafuzi Zain will also stay behind as he is suspended after collecting three yellow cards. But Rahman said the team is not about one or two players.

“We have capable players waiting for their chance and this will be an ideal time for them to show us their quality. “All the players are very important to the team and we must work together to ensure Sabah fulfill its potential,” he said. “Furthermore I’m sure that the chief coach (Drago Mamic) has plotted the strategy for the game … as long as the players play to the game plan, I believe we will be able to return victorious,” added Rahman.

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