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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sabah’s futsal men’s team brimming with confidence

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah men’s team will go into the second round of the group stage full of confidence following their convincing show in the first round of the National Felda Futsal Championship 2008-09 recently.

They concluded their first round campaign finishing behind Kedah in the Group F challenge.

Kedah top the group on seven points from two wins and a draw, while Sabah on the other hand trail two points behind after registering one win and two draws.

But despite their current position, head coach Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah is convinced they will be able to turn the tables on Kedah in the second round.

“It is still an open game and I believe that our chances are pretty good. Our target is to win all our matches and top the group,” a confident Asyraaf said.

“At the moment, our players are in tip-top form and I’m very optimistic they will be able to give their best show,” he added.

In the first round played in Terengganu, Sabah defeated Johor MBJB 7-2 and were held to a four-all draw by Terengganu and drew one-all with Kedah.

Sabah must top the group if they harbour hopes to make it into the final round where a handsome RM40,000 prize money awaits the champions.

The winners of the group stage would also be rewarded where they would receive RM10,000, while the runners-up would pocket RM5,000.

And Asyraaf said that in order to give the extra motivation to his players, they have decided that they would reward the players with the winning prize money should they make it into the final round.

“We have told them that the money is theirs if they make it into the final round. With this I see no reason why they should not give their best,” said Asyraaf.

The second round of the championship will be played in Johor from January 9 to 11 while the final round in Perak from January 16-18.

Sabah will be parading Mohd Khairul Jipoi, Khairul Azuan, Safar Mohamad, Sunarai Raffi Sariman, Datu Bersih Bagu, Azman Soaibah, Eddie Mansur, Mohd Marwansitah Ahmad, Rosmadih Wasli, Faisal Ismail, Austin Orou and Ardi Sida in the championship.

But unlike their men’s counterparts, the women’s squad is facing a tough assignment in making it into the final round.

Not only have they to win all their matches, but they must also hope group leaders Terengganu fumble at least twice.

Terengganu will go into the second round as hot favourites having collected the maximum nine points in the first round, while Sabah are in second on four points after registering one win, one draw and a defeat in the first round.

Johor MBJB are also on four points, while Kedah are languishing at the bottom of the four-team standings.

The Sabah squads would leave for the championship on January 10.

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