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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Second round target

KOTA KINABALU: Coach Wathiq Naji Jasim is expected to make tactical changes as he plots to show Kuala Lumpur the exit in the second leg of the first round of the FA Cup competition.

The Iraqi is confident with the right approach they will be able to humble their opponents who scored a late equaliser in the first leg encounter that ended in a one-all draw.

But for the return leg at the Likas Stadium tonight, the Rhinos head coach is not willing to give the visitors any room to gain any advantage for the remaining 90 minutes.

In the first leg, they were seconds away from victory after a 46th minute strike from Azrul Ejati Damsah put them into the lead.

However, Azwan Malek denied them the victory with a pile-driver shot from about 30 metres deep in injury time.

Tonight, Wathiq is likely to introduce lanky defender Henry Parsi and flanker Mohd Farid Saibun for the first time this season.

Zainizam Marjan and Gasili Pangalot are likely to make way for the duo as Azrul once again is expected to start from the bench.

And Wathiq seems to have picked the right man at least in the case of Henry Parsi, who has vowed to nail his place in the first team.

“I will not want to waste this opportunity. I will try and do my best to make an impression,” said the Sipitang-born defender.

However, Henry, who had a short stint with the national Under-23 side and was part of the side that went for the friendly game in Slovakia sometime last year, may not play in his favoruite position at right back.

Henry, 23, is likely to play the defensive role in midfield alongside Rezuan Khan Aman.

In the absence of team captain Zainizam Marjan, Wong Sai Kong is set to skipper the side that has the simplest of tasks in cruising into the second round.

A scoreless draw would see them through based on the away goal ruling while a one-all draw will see the match go into extra time. A draw with a bigger scoreline will show Kuala Lumpur the way into the next round.

Glancing at Henry’s playing background he made his Sabah debut with the Under-19 squad before jumping ship and playing for Labuan Reserve League the following year.

However in 2005, he made a return to Sabah and played for the Reserve League side before gaining entry into the senior side in 2006 together with his youngster sibling Hardy Charles Parsi, who is now a regular face at the Rhinos’ backline.

And like Henry, Hardy, 21, is also vowing to keep his place in the first team.

“I just want to play week in and week out. I just love playing and I’m willing to work hard for it,” Hardy said.

Like his elder sibling Henry, Hardy also had a stint with the national side. He was part of the national Under-20 squad.

He has the experience of playing against the Manchester United Under-19 squad that Malaysia beat in a friendly about a year ago.

However, injury denied Hardy of making the final squad.

“That was my most memorable memory thus far in my career. I was then in the first team,” he said of the friendly game against Manchester United Under-19 squad.

Tonight, the two siblings are ready to fight until the end and help Sabah book a place in the second round.

Goalkeeper Harold John is also expected to start the game as first choice custodian Irwan Jamil is down with a groin injury.

Wong, Mohd Fariss Azlan Mat Isa, Mafry Balang, Selyvister Saini, Billyton Vun Ket Ming and Alto Linus are all set to feature in the first team squad.

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