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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IN WITH A CHANCE


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah may hold the initiative at home but it will be the visiting Pahang team that will be the hot favourites as the visitors have a two-goal cushion after winning the first leg 3-1. But the Rhinos are ready for the return leg of the FA Cup quarter-finals at the Likas Stadium tonight. Rahman Zakaria is refusing to concede defeat, citing that there is another 90 minutes to play to decide a place in the semi-finals. The Rhinos team manager admitted it will certainly be a mammoth task for them to overcome the deficit, but he believes it is not an impossible task to accomplish. “As far as we are concerned nothing is over. We will try our level best to get the better of them this time around,” said Rahman. “Two goals is not a big margin, and I do believe our chances to go into the next round are still wide open. Nevertheless, this will surely be a do-or-die mission, not only for us but also for them as well. “Well, they may be the firm favourites but we are happy to go into the match as the underdogs. “There is no pressure on our part. We have got nothing to lose. So we will go into the game without any pressure whatsoever. The only thing we need to do tomorrow (tonight) is to play our hearts out,” Rahman added. Nevertheless, Rahman reminded his charges not to waste the opportunity to make it into the next round. “We are so close to the final and it would be a great waste if we don’t take this opportunity. Furthermore, we have missed the chance to win honours in the Premier League, so it would be great if we can do it in this competition. Rahman also called on the fans to come in full force to give the team a much needed boost. He said that with good turn out from the fans, it will surely help the team play better. “The presence of the fans will indirectly boost the players’ team spirit.” Rahman also hinted that they will parade their best squad for the clash. “All our foreign players will be in action. Andre (Scotti Ossemer), Kokhrei Dze Irakli and Dragic (Dalibor) will certainly see first team action. “However, on the local front we will still be without Munir (Amran/suspension) as well as Rosdin Wasli (injured), but the rest are available for options. Meaning to say we will be having our best squad for the clash. “As for Jamie (Phoenix), he has been replaced by Andre, so he will have ample time to recuperate from injury,” said Rahman. Both Sabah and Pahang are one-time FA Cup champions. Sabah were crowned champions in 1995 and ironically it was Pahang that they defeated 3-1 in the final. As for Pahang, they lifted the Cup for the first time in 2006. Playing elsewhere tonight, reigning champion Kedah will take on Melaka at the Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Star. The newly crowned Super League 2007-2008 champs should make the semis as they have a 4-1 advantage after their first leg victory over the struggling Premier League outfit. At the Shah Alam Stadium, Selangor will face high riding Premier League side Kuala Muda Naza. It will be interesting to see if the inexperienced club side can hold their one-goal advantage over an elite team like Selangor. In Cheras, Felda United FC will need a midas touch to overcome the two-goal deficit over Terengganu who won the first leg encounter 3-1. Away goal rules will apply if teams are level on aggregate. Matches will proceed into extra time and then penalty kicks is to take place.

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