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Monday, January 19, 2009

Leopold inspires junior Rhinos to first victory

KOTA KINABALU: Leopold Alphonso Otong inspired the junior Rhinos to their first victory in the President’s Cup challenge by defeating Perak UPB-MyTEAM 2-0 at the Likas Stadium yesterday.

The teenager, who is featuring for the senior side, set up the first goal before scoring the second late in the game.

Leopold, 18, was only recalled to strengthen the State Under-20 side as the Premier League is currently taking a break.

And he did not disappoint the team as it was him who made the difference with his bursting run from the right of midfield that resulted in both goals.

And it was only about 10 days ago, Leopold, who hails from Tamparuli but now residing in Inanam, made his Premier League debut with a goal by scoring the opener in the 2-0 win over SDM Kepala Batas.

And yesterday, he repeated his scoring act in his maiden match for the junior Rhinos.

Head coach Rozlee Idris was delighted with the victory and praised the players for a job well done.

He, however, said that there is plenty of room for improvement especially in the tactical aspects of the game.

“They tried really hard and I’m happy to see they managed to win this game. It was an equally contested tie and much tougher than our first game,” Rozlee said, referring to their first match against Johor FC where they went down 1-0 in an away battle last Thursday.

“Overall, I’m happy with the way we approached the game. As you can see, physically they were much bigger than us, but we managed to overcome them.

“However, there is still plenty of room for improvement and we will look into the things that need to be improved ahead of our next game.

On Leopold’s contribution, Rozlee said: “Leopold played well, but he could have done better if he trains with us. Maybe next time, we will call him to train with us for two or three days ahead of our next match.”

He also hoped that Leopold and Selyvister Saini will also be part of the team that would travel to Penang next Wednesday.

Yesterday, the junior Rhinos drew first blood on the stroke of half time through Ibrahim Abu Nawas who had the simplest of tasks by tapping in a low drive from Leopold.

Earlier on, Selyvister, who is one of the three Under-20 players playing for the senior side, had the best of chances to put the junior Rhinos ahead in the 13th minute when he had the keeper to beat.

Unfortunately, the nippy player failed to convert his chance after his attempt was blocked by the keeper.

After the break, it was still a 50-50 game until Leopold scored the second with a cool finish two minutes from time.

The visitors had the chance to score the consolation, but Muhd Fakrul Aiman shot straight to Sabah custodian Ovinnis Ozawa Joachim from close range.

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