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Friday, April 18, 2008

weary Rhinos take on City Boys


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will have to do without four regulars when they take on Kuala Lumpur in a Premier League home tie against Kuala Lumpur tonight.

Midfielder Mohd Nafuzi Zain is the latest player to be in the Rhinos’ casualty list after aggravating an injury in the 2-1 win over Johor Pasir Gudang on Monday.

Englishman Jamie Phoenix and skipper Rosdin Wasli will still be on the sidelines as they are yet to fully recover from their respective injuries. Lanky defender Mohd Munir Amran is not among the options as he is under suspension after collecting a red card in the 1-2 defeat to Kelantan last week.

But despite not having the best squad to face the City Boys, Rhinos chief coach Drago Mamic remains optimistic about their chances. “We got to admit the fact that we will be stronger if all our best players are available for any game. However, things like this do happen, so we have to live with it.

“So my hope is for the players that come in to show that they are as good as those nursing injury or suspension,” Drago said. “On my part, I will try to prepare the best team for the game, and hoping for them to do a good job. It has been a tough season because the fixtures is really hurting us. Compare to our Peninsula counterparts, I think we suffered the most because of the travelling that we have to make.

“Just look at our fixtures the last 14 days. I can understand why they can get injured so easily because there is hardly any time for them to recover.

“The travelling itself is already taking its toll on the players, but I’m glad to have a squad that always tries their level best when ever they are given the opportunity.

And Drago said that as long as the players play to instructions and show their usual gritty spirit, the team’s chances of winning remain high. “I know this team. They have a good fighting spirit and commitment. And I hope they will click as a team because once that happen, our chances (winning) would be higher,” said Drago.

Drago will still have the services of Georgian striker Kokhrei Dze Irakli while Dragic Dalibor will also be around at the Rhinos backlines for tonight’s game.

Sabah currently fifth in the standings is already out of contention for promotion to the Super League, and now they are hoping to end their season in fourth placing, the best they could do.

However, they must win their remaining four matches, including tonight’s date with Kuala Lumpur. At the same time, they must hope for Johor Pasir Gudang to fumble somewhere in their remaining matches.

KL Plus lead the 13-team standings on 53 points followed by Kuala Muda Naza on 51. Kelantan is in third on 47 while Johor Pasir Gudang 39 and Sabah 37.

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