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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Still in the race

KOTA KINABALU: The State men’s futsal squad are pretty much still in the race for a place in the final round of the National Felda Futsal Championship 2008-09 after ending their first round campaign with one win, and two draws held in Terengganu last week.

The feat sees them lying in second spot in the four-team Group F standings on five points, a mere two points behind table-toppers Kedah, who registered two wins and a draw.

Third-placed Terengganu are only three points behind Sabah after drawing two matches and losing once. Johor MBJB languish at the bottom of the table on one point from a draw.

“At the moment, it is pretty much an open race,” player-cum-coach Austin Orou said.

“As long as we can maintain the way we have been playing, I’m quite optimistic about our chances,” he added.

“In fact it has been a good first round for the team. For instance against Kedah, we created so many chances only to be denied by poor finishing. Overall, I think we created at least 10 chances, but only one found the net.

“As for Kedah, they scored from the spot kick following a collective error by the team, and that was their only chance. But I have no complaints because our players tried their best and fought their hearts out through the tournament.

“Basically, now we need to fine tune the team, especially in our attacking as well as our defending. If we can improve on that, I think we will put up a much better show in the second round,” Austin said.

The second round of the tournament will be held in Johor Baru from January 9 to 11, 2008 and Sabah must finish top of the group to qualify for the final round which will be held in Perak from January 16-18.

In the first round, Sabah were held to a one-all draw by Kedah despite dominating the game. Eddie Mansur scored for Sabah.

Eddie then scored a hat-trick in the 7-2 victory over Johor MBJB with Mohd Faisal Ismail and Mohd Marwansitah Ahmad netting two goals each.

In the four-all draw against Terengganu, this time it was Mohd Marwansitah Ahmad who scored a hat-trick while Eddie netted once.

RM10,000 awaits the group winners while the champions of the tournament will pocket RM40,000, and the runners-up RM20,000.

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