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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TOUGH TASK FOR RHINOS


KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria wants the Rhinos to maintain their momentum in their quest for Malaysia Cup glory.

Despite knowing very well that there is a bumpy road ahead for the Rhinos, he believes there is still an open chance for the team to earn a place in the quarter-finals.

The Rhinos’ team manager admitted that it will remain “win or bust” for them.

He then predicted that the fight for a place in the last eight in the group will definitely go down to the wire.

“This is a very tough group and I don’t think any team can say they have the upper hand over any of the others. Based on the current situation, we can say that only teams that can show consistency will earn a place in the next round.

“On our part, it will be a hell of a job to be among the quarter-finalists. But the players showed in the last two games that they are not about to throw in the towel just yet.

“They showed how serious they are in wanting to do well and make amends for the disappointing Premier League campaign.

“It was just unfortunate that we had a bad start … losing our first two games in the tournament, but I think the two defeats may be a blessing in disguise for the team, as the team seem to have regained their true potential.

“We had quite a good game against Johor FC (Sabah winning 2-1) and against Kedah, I cannot find fault with any of the players, especially with the way they fought their hearts out.

“I cannot pick which one of them contributed the most to the team, as in my eyes, all of them have done their utmost best and deserve to be given a pat on the back.

“To continue with this kind of fighting spirit, commitment and dedication and most importantly playing as a team, I’m very sure no matter how hard or difficult the obstacle is ahead (of the team), we will be able to overcome it.

“I’m really proud with the way the team fought their hearts out against Kedah and I’m sure the fans also felt the same way. And I must thank those diehard fans for rallying behind the team and I hope they will continue giving their support in our remaining matches.”

The Rhinos certainly deserve praises for the way they played and fought in the game.

It can be dubbed as their best ever game at home and if not for the “bad refereeing” three points could have been in their bag.

The double sending off of Dragic Dalibor and Hishamuddin Othman denied Sabah of what was seen as a possible victory.

But having to play with two men lesser in the last 25 minutes or so was too much for Sabah as it was after the sending off of Dragic and Hishamuddin that Kedah took the lead when the scoreline was level at two-all.

Marlon Alex James made the scoreline 3-2 in favour of the visiting Kedah four minutes after the expulsion of Dragic and Hishamuddin.

But a spectacular dipping shot from about 40 metres by defender Wong Sai Kong earned the well deserved point for Sabah.

Before the sending off Sabah were the better side and this was proven as they twice took the lead with Bobby Gonzales slotting home the opener after 18 minutes of play, before Mohd Khyril Muyhmeen equalised with his 37th minute effort.

Nigerian striker David Njoku restored Sabah’s lead in the first half injury time with a fine finish, but Mohd Khyril put the scoreline on level terms when he scored his second five minutes after the break before Marlon put his side into the lead for the first time when Sabah played with nine men.

Sabah will leave for the national capital today and will take on Police the following day.

After the Police date, they will continue their trip to Penang to start the second round of the campaign before returning home.

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