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Thursday, January 19, 2012

We can compete

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Justin Ganai’s uncertainty about the capabilities of his team is finally answered! The Sabah head coach is finally convinced that they can compete against the best in the Malaysian Super League.

Although it is only three matches into the season, but he now believes that if the team continues to make progress, their chances of doing well or even finishing among the top five in the 14-team league is bright.

He recalled: “In the opener against Felda United, we played quite well, and were also confident because we thought we had the advantage of taking on a team that did not have foreign players. Unfortunately, we lost our battle, which I still think could have ended with at least a draw if we were a little bit lucky.”

“Against Sarawak, we played better than against Felda, and I thought we were the deserving winners. But even after the victory over Sarawak, I was still not convinced about our challenge.
“But now, after our third game, I think, we should be able to compete against the rest. If we continue with our hard work and focus on what we are doing, I’m quite sure we will be able to finish at least among the top five teams at the end of the season,” Justin said.

Sabah picked up their first point on the road after halting table toppers Terengganu’s T-Team’s winning run by holding them to a stalemate.

And Justin said despite playing away from home, they still looked to be the better side on the night.
He was happy with the point, although deep inside him, he was a little frustrated for not returning home with three.

He revealed that they had the opportunity to collect maximum points, but unfortunately, they failed to capitalise on the chances presented to them.

“We had three good one-on-one goal-scoring opportunities, but unfortunately, we squandered them,” he said, referring to efforts from Bobby Gonzales (twice) and Michael William Baird (once).

On why he decided to play defensively, Justin explained: “We had a discussion with the manager, the captain and the coaching staff. At the end of the day, every one of them contributed their ideas, and we thought it was best to go into the game with a defensive mode considering that they have scored six goals from two matches.”

“I’m happy that everyone in the team was so supportive and at times expressed their ideas, which is for the betterment of our progress,” he added.
And now with the point gained, Justin hoped that it could help instil greater spirit, determination, commitment and confidence in the team.

Against T-Team, Justin made three changes to the side that edged Sarawak 2-1.
He replaced Syed Adney Syed Hussin and picked Azizon Abd Kadir as his ball stopper.
He also rested Radzi Mohd Hussin and played Ronny Harun instead while K. Thanaraj replaced Md Rozaimi Abd Rahman at the left of midfield and retained the rest namely Sumardi Hajalan, Mafry Balang, Md Reithudin Ag Emran, Mohd Fariss Azlan Mat Isa, Brendan Gan, Shahrudin Yakup, Bobby Gonzales and Michael Baird.

At the start of the second half, Shahrul Azhar Ture came in for Shahrudin while late on Rozaimi replaced Thanaraj while Sabah’s ‘little Messi’ Jusrey Omopor came in for Bobby.
Next Sabah take on Lions XII at the Likas Stadium this Saturday.

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