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Monday, January 12, 2009

Changes for Rhinos’ first away mission


KOTA KINABALU: Head coach Wathiq Naji Jasim is likely to make minor changes to his winning squad in their first away mission of the season taking on another club side Proton FC at the MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya tonight.

The Iraqi is forced to leave out Azrul Ejati Damsah due to injury.

The speedy flanker limped out with a hamstring injury in the Rhinos’ 2-0 win over Premier League newcomers SDM in the opener at the Likas Stadium last Friday.

Billyton Vun Ket Ming, who came in for the injured Azrul, also did not make the trip as Wathiq decided to include the inexperienced duo of Mohd Farid Saibun and Awang Norhidzan Ensim in his 18-member squad for the clash.

The rest of the players including Harold John, Selyvister Saini, Mohd June Azral Lalah and Gasili Pangalot, have been retained.

Hamiddin Amat and Radzi Md Hussin also made the trip along with those who started the game against SDM Kepala Batas namely Irwan Jamil, Wong Sai Kong, Hardy Charles Parsi, Mohd Fariss Azlan Mat Isa, Mafry Balang, Rezuan Khan Aman, Julamri Muhammad, Alto Linus, Leopold Alphonso Otong and skipper Zainizam Marjan.

Wathiq is likely to name either Radzi or Mohd Farid to replace Azrul.

“I hope the players will play their hearts out like they did on Friday. They also have the winning mentality, and not to worry too much of playing the game away from home.

“If we want to be a formidable side, we have to have the ability to win matches whether it is home or away,” said team manager Rahman Zakaria yesterday.

“Furthermore, this is our first away game, and it will surely give the team a big boost in confidence should we bring home maximum points from the game.

“We don’t really know their strength, but that doesn’t really matter. As long as we can play to our true strength and the players play their hearts out, I’m sure our chances of winning are always there,” he added.

Rahman also reminded Sabah’s young and inexperienced players such as Alto, Leopold, Selyvister and Awang not to be too concerned about facing their opponents away from home.

“We have enough experience in the team to help them. As long as they have the will and spirit, I’m sure they will overcome their nervousness of playing away from home,” said Rahman.

Last season, Sabah defeated Proton FC 4-1 at home, but were held to a one-all draw in the second round.


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