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Friday, January 09, 2009

Rhinos kick-off new season against Premier League newcomers

Kota Kinabalu: Rhinos Team Manager Rahman Zakaria is hoping for a good turn out from fans and supporters as his charges kick-off this year's Premier League season in a match against newcomers Penang SDM Kepala Batas, at the Likas Stadium here, Friday.

He said a good turn out from the Sabah supporters is vital to give his team the spirit to win their opening game against their newly promoted opponents.

Rahman feels upbeat about tonight's match, as his squad is a more experienced and more powerful team compared to the Penang SDM Kepala Batas.

However, Rahman said he prefers not to exert too much confidence over his opponents as this would be a meeting against a side they have never played.

"Penang SDM Kepala Batas is a new team in this league and we have never played them. I feel good about going against them, but I would not be taking any chances against them.

"I've told my boys to play cautiously and not to underestimate the opponents. We have never played against them and do not know any of their strengths or weaknesses," said Rahman.

He said his team is prepared and they would do their best to win the game.

"It's a very important game as it is the first game of the season. It's the curtain raiser for the season and naturally we want to win it. A win at home would give a huge boost to the team when we go against Selangor in the away fixture next week," said Rahman.

Rahman is expected to feature his first eleven, comprising Irwan Jamil, Juneral Lalah, Alto Limus, Gasili Pengalot, Sylvester Sainih, Julamri Mohd, Wong Sai Kong, Hardy Parsi, Zainizam Marjan, Mohammad Radzi Hussin and Mohd Faris Jazlan.

He tips that there will be an exciting player to watch this season in the form of Alto Limus.

Rahman hopes that this season will provide Sabah the breakthrough to move up to join the teams in the Super League, as this will be the third straight season that the Rhinos will be playing in the second tier of Malaysian football.

Plagued with a run of mediocre performances since the late 1990s, Rahman knows that the Sabah team has a lot to prove before it can move back up among the ranks of Malaysia's best teams.

However, his determination to succeed this season is well felt among the Sabah players, as they too are hungry for better success.

Last season Sabah finished fourth in a league of 13 teams.

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