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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Torrid time at Likas

New Sabah Times

 KOTA KINABALU: Peter James Butler is back in town to lead his high-riding side Kelantan against Sabah in a Super League tie at the Likas Stadium tonight. The Englishman is no stranger to Sabah football having taking charge of the State squad in 2003-2004 season.

 The former West Ham player guided Sabah to the Malaysia Cup final in 2003 in his first year in charge, but parted ways the following season after an unconvincing start to the season. But tonight, Butler could hound his former team with his star-studded squad, and Sabah had better beware! Sabah team manager Hj Shahriman Abdullah knows how tough the game could be for his side tonight and for that reason, he reminded his charges to put on the extra gear to humble their opponents, who are currently topping the 14-team standings.

 He also hopes his charges will play according to the game plan set by the coach. “I also want them to play as a team with high spirit to win. They must stay united and be willing to help each other. “If we play to the game plan with high discipline and have composure, our chances of getting the result is always there,” said Shahriman.

 He also wants the players to be more creative and try to enjoy the game. To a question on their chances, Shahriman said: “It all boils down to the players. If they have a strong desire to win, I’m quite optimistic they can do it. Furthermore, our level is not much different to our opponents.”

 “I also believe that the coach will come up with something for the game, and with the support from the fans, this could be an exciting night for us,” said Shahriman. Shahriman also hinted that Zainizam Marjan, who is yet to make a first-team appearance, could feature for the first team. “He has recovered from a knee injury, and I think he’s going to make the first team,” said Shahriman. Meanwhile, head coach Justin Ganai said they have to double their efforts in getting the result.

 “They (Kelantan) are a good side, and we have to be at our best in order to stop them. I want all the players to give their best shot in the game,” said Justin before hinting that he is likely to make a minor reshuffle to his first team squad.

 “I’m planning to change things around a little, but the whole idea will still be to get the result. With Mafry (Balang) still out on suspension, that means, changes will be made to our defence. “In midfield, there will also be some changes, and I could bring in Zainizam to play alongside Brendan (Gan). However, this will still depend on whether he has fully recovered from his knee injury,” said Justin, adding that he would also consider Leopold Alfonso Otong to play a role in some part in the game.

 Sabah lost their last home encounter against Lions XII. Despite dominating the tie, they went down 1-0 to the Singaporeans. Justin knows tonight they could face a similar fate if they don’t play up to expectations, especially when it comes to scoring goals. For the record, Kelantan lead the standings on 13 points from four wins and a draw, while Sabah are at the wrong end of the table in 11th placing with five points from one win, two draws and two defeats.

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