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Saturday, May 03, 2008

PRIDE AT STAKE


KOTA KINABALU: There will be nothing more than pride and a fourth place finish at stake as Sabah take on basement team Armed Forces in their final Premier League fixture at the Likas Stadium tonight.

Despite the fact that they are out of the running for the top spot, that will not stop Sabah from gunning for victory. “We must fight for our pride. We want to end our season as high as possible. Although things don’t look good, but there is still a possibility of us finishing fourth, and we are not going to give up hope,” said Rahman Zakaria.

“Furthermore, we want to end our Premier League campaign on a winning note,” the Rhinos’ team manager added. “So tomorrow (tonight) victory will be our utmost priority,” he stressed.

“It doesn’t matter how many goals we will score. All we need is a victory to end our season on a positive note,” he said when contacted yesterday. Sabah have had a roller-coaster league season where at one point they were the main challengers for the top place that guaranteed Super League football next season.

However, unfavourable results in several matches, including against the top three teams Kuala Muda FC, KL Plus FC and Kelantan consecutively, all but ended their hopes.

That left the Rhinos fighting for their pride towards the end of the campaign, which Rahman demands from the players against Armed Forces. “We have our status to protect and the players must give their best even though we are playing a lowly ranked team. “I hope I won’t see complacency from the players. It is a match that we must win.

With the Premier League entering its final games tonight, fifth placed Sabah are one point behind Johor Pasir Gudang on 42, while the top three teams are Kuala Muda Naza (58 points), KL Plus FC (57 points) and Kelantan (53 points).

Only the Young Tigers (Malaysia Under-19) have finished the 24-match league while the rest will play their last games tonight. Rahman said that the import trio of Dragic Dalidor, Andre Scotti and Kokhrei Dze Irakli are expected to start the game.

Meanwhile, Rahman said that the Rhinos will make thorough preparations ahead of the Malaysia Cup campaign starting in June. “That is why we must fight for victory against ATM because we have the Malaysia Cup to look forward to,” he added.

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