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Monday, June 30, 2008

BANKING ON DAVID


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will have to rely on Nigerian striker David Njoku to spearhead their attack when they take on reigning champions Kedah in a Malaysia Cup Group B challenge at the Likas Stadium tonight. The Rhinos will be without two strikers – Salvester Sindeh and Andre Scotti Ossemer.

Salvester, who notched the winning goal for Sabah against Johor FC last Friday, will miss the game due to suspension, while Andre, who did not feature in the victory, is down with a groin injury and facing a long-term layoff.

Bobby Gonzales is the only notable striker left in the team who could possibly shoulder the responsibility with David.

“We know it will be great to have both Salvester and Andre for this game. However, this thing has happened and we have to live with it,” said Rahman Zakaria.

“I believe the team are just as good as without the two players, and I hope they will put up another spirited show against Kedah.

“This is an opportunity for us to improve our position in the standings and I hope the players realise how important the game is for the team.

“When you look how close the points are in the standings, I can say that every match will be important, not only for us but for the other teams as well,” the Rhinos’ team manager added.

In the absence of Salvester and Andre, Rahman hopes David or Bobby would do a good job for the team.

The Adebayor look-a-like striker, who made his debut in the 2-3 defeat to Kuala Lumpur, is yet to find the net after two games, and Rahman wants to see the Nigerian Under-23 player start scoring.

“We played quite well against Johor FC, and I hope the players can take it from there and try to improve. I also want to see them work as a team and fight for the ball without any hesitation.

“As long as the players are willing to fight it out and are willing to run for the team, I’m pretty optimistic about our chances,” said Rahman.

Tonight, the Rhinos’ head coach is unlikely to make any major changes to his winning squad with Irwan Jamil likely to be retained as the ball stopper, while Dragic Dalibor and Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, who played extremely well in the last game will be the driving force at the backline.

Stand-in skipper Zainizam Marjan, Wong Sai Kong, Chow Chee Wing and Hishamuddin Othman are also likely to start and the same goes for Mohd Radzi Hussin and Zuraindey Jumai.

A victory for Sabah tonight will see them move up from the bottom of the six-team standings and could also move to second should other results favour them.

Elsewhere, Group B table-toppers Kuala Lumpur take on second-placed Police at the KLFA Stadium, while Penang will be on the road to play Johor FC at the Jcorp Stadium in Pasir Gudang.

The other group (A & B) fixtures will see Melaka versus Terengganu at the Hang Jebat Stadium, while Kelantan will entertain Selangor at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru. The other Group A tie will see Sarawak take on Negeri Sembilan at the Sarawak Stadium.

In the Group C challenge, Johor Pasir Gudang will be pitted against Perak at the Tan Sri Dato’ Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium, while Armed Forces will play home to Perlis at the MP Selayang Stadium with the unbeaten UPB-MyTeam taking on Pahang at the MBPJ Stadium.

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