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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Don’t buckle under pressure

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Juil Nuatim wants his charges to learn how to play under pressure, insisting that life being the league leaders will never be easy.
“We have to live up to expectations week in week out and must be able to cope with the pressure in front of us.

“To be at the top is already a tough challenge, and to maintain the position is even more challenging. So I hope the players are prepared to work hard and learn how to live being leaders (league),” said Juil, ahead of the clash against Johor-based Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School, formerly known as Bandar Penawar Sports School (SSTMI ), in a President’s Cup challenge at the Likas Stadium today.

The Sabah team manager, when contacted yesterday, added: “Furthermore, when we look at the latest standings, things still look pretty close, and only teams that can show consistency until the end of the group stage will survive.”

“This clearly shows that there is no room for us to be complacent nor can we take any teams for granted.
“But so far, I’m very happy with what the team has achieved and I hope they will continue to work hard and try to get better in each game.”
Sabah will go down to the battlefield high in confidence having won all their previous four home ties.

They are also the only unbeaten side in the Group A challenge after notching two wins and two draws in their last four away battles.

They are currently leading the pack with 20 points in their bag after eight games, and a victory over the visiting schoolboys will see them strengthen their grip at the top.
Juil said their unbeaten home record is one strong motivational factor for the players to be hungry for more victory.

“We want to make the Likas Stadium as a fortress. So I really hope the fans will come and support the team,” said Juil.
Meanwhile, head coach Johnny Dominicus said that they must capitalise on the slight homeground advantage to gun down their opponents.

“Based on where they are in the standings, they are a decent side. They have won five games, drawn twice and suffered only one defeat. They have scored 16 goals and conceded six, just like us.
“So, I believe this is going to be an interesting tie, and I wish is to see the players (Sabah) play to their true capabilities.

“As long as the players can play like they did in our recent matches, I’m quite confident of getting the right result,” Johnny said.
Johnny said Super League-based player Leopold Alfonso Otong has been allowed to play for them today.

“Our Super League side is currently having a two-week break since their 2-1 win over Johor FC last week. Their next match is only on March 17, so Leopold is free to play for us tomorrow,” said Johnny.

As for Sabri, Johnny said he is still unsure whether to include him in the team.
“I don’t know whether he (Sabri) is ready for the clash. But if he has fully recovered from his injury (ankle) he will surely be part of the team, but if not, then I will not risk him,” he added.

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