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Monday, April 30, 2012

Nick that point

Daily Express

 KOTA KINABALU: The high flying Sabahawks Junior are all fired up ahead of their home tie against Kelantan in a President’s Cup Group A challenge at the Likas Stadium today. They have all the reasons to have such a feeling, as a draw or victory over Kelantan will see them seal their place in the quarter-finals of the national U-21 competition.

 Having beaten the same opponent on the road by a 2-1 margin last February in a first round encounter, Juil Nuatim is optimistic his side will be able to at least nick a point from this encounter. The Sabah team manager said that playing at home turf and having the support of local fans, will give them the slight edge over their opponent.

 “I’m quite confident of the team getting a desirable result. Furthermore, we have been doing really well whenever we play a home game,” said Juil. For the record, Sabahawks Junior have won nine out of their last 10 home matches, with one ending in a draw, which was against Bukit Jalil Sports School (1-1).

 Meanwhile, head coach Johnny Dominicus is also convinced that his charges will deliver the result today. “We are quite confident of delivering. Based on my calculation, we need another point to assure our place in the last eight, but having said that, we will play to win and that have always been our target,” said Johnny.
“If we win or draw, I think it will be good enough to put us through into the last eight, with another four matches to spare,” said Johnny. Sabahawks Junior will go into the game having 48 points in their bag after 19 games into the season.

 They are in second behind Kedah, who are also on 48 points, but stay ahead on a superior goal difference. Third placed KL Sime Darby are on 42 points while Terengganu T-Team and Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School are level on 34 points in fourth and fifth respectively.

 With another five matches to play, including today’s tie, if Sabahawks can pick up at least one point from the game, there is no way both T-Team and Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School could pip them in the 13-team standings. “If we can qualify as the Group A winners it will be much better. So we will go all out and get the results and pile the pressure on Kedah,” said Johnny.

 “We will take one match at a time and our main focus now is the match against Kelantan,” added Johnny. Johnny will be without his influential skipper Didie Arizal Ibrahim due to suspension. The Labuan-born defender collected his third yellow card in the 4-1 away win over Johor Melodi Jaya last Thursday.

 Johnny hinted that highly rated right back Razid Gapar will stand in for Didie at the centre of the defence alongside Dendy Lowa while defender-turned-winger Umareng Bachok will take from Razid. Zulmansyah Aling, who will make his return into the team after serving his two-match suspension, will be deployed as the wide man on the right.

 “Umareng has played well on the flank and scored goals too but we will need him at the back tomorrow (today). “He will have no problem playing there because it is his natural position…he came for trial (early in the season) as a right back,” said Johnny.

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