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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Battle is far from over: Alijus

KOTA KINABALU: Team manager Alijus Sipil has told his charges that their battle is far from over.

He said nothing is won yet and therefore there is no reason for any celebration just yet.

While expressing his satisfaction following Sabah’s convincing show in the first round of the group stage, Alijus warned the players from being complacent.

He said: “I am happy with our showing in the first round, but we have to remember this is just the beginning of our battle.”

“Furthermore, we will have a tough second round because we will have to win all our matches in order to qualify for the final.

“That is why we will bring a positive mind and I believe the players will be able to rise to the occasion.

“This will not be an easy task but it’s not impossible either,” said Alijus at a dinner together with the players on Tuesday.

“It is in tournaments like this that the players must translate what they have learnt in training onto the court. I think the team management, officials and coaches have done their responsibility and now it is up to the players to deliver when on the court.

“Players must also bear in mind that they are representing the State and over two million people including your families and friends. Fight to lift the State image … the team will be the focus as you are playing in a major tournament early in the year.”

Alijus also thanked the Suria Indoor Soccer Centre who assisted and supported the team, including being the team’s main training venue.

Meanwhile, chief coach Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah hoped the squad will perform better than in the first round.

“Weaknesses from the first round have been identified and rectified. One task which remains to be completed is from the players when on the court.

“The players must give their best. The strong support from the team manager is to realise the target to the final rounds,” said Asyraaf.

Sabah will go into the second round trailing two points behind leaders Kedah in the Group F challenge that also comprise Terengganu and MBJB Johor.

Kedah lead the group on seven points from two wins and a draw while Sabah are on five points from a win and two draws.

The second round will be played in Johor from Jan 9-11 with the group winners making it into the final round scheduled to be held in Perak a week later.

The State squad comprises assistant coach-cum-player Austin Orou, Mohd Khairul Jipdi, Khairul Azuan, Safar Mohammad, Sunarai Raffi Shariman, Datu Bersih Bagu, Azman Soibah, Eddie Mansur, Mohd Marwanshah, Rosmadi Wasli, Faizal Ismail and Ardi Sida.

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