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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tall order for Juniors

New Sabah Times


KOTA KINABALU: Juil Nuatim hopes his high flying Sabahawks Juniors will remain invincible for the rest of their Group A challenge.

The Sabah team manager said it will be a hard job to do, but is convinced it is within their reach.
Sabahawks Juniors is the only side that has managed to stay unbeaten in the group after 16 matches into the season.

There are another eight matches to go, including today’s date with Kedah at the Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Setar, which Juil described as a tricky and difficult tie.

“I don’t think this is going to be an easy match. Our opponents (Kedah) have been on a winning streak of late. They trounced Johor 4-0 in their last game, and you can see their strength there,” said Juil.

“Of course we will go there to try and get all the three points, but if we can settle for a draw, it will still be a good result for us. I have told them that the main objective (in this tie) is to keep our unbeaten run intact,” he added.

Juil also said that it is important for the team to go there with the right mentality and the right approach.
“We must go there with a positive mind. At the moment we have the opportunity to do it (to remain unbeaten), and we must not waste it,” said Juil.

“So far, I’m very proud of the team. Our coaching staff like our head coach Johnny Dominicus, his assistant Burhan Ajui as well as Awal Taham and Matasan Ahmad who have done a good job.

“I’m also happy with the players. They have been working very hard and have shown good fighting spirit, determination and are also very committed to the team. These positive attitudes must continue. If it does, I don’t see why we cannot achieve our goals,” Juil said.

In their first round meeting (against Kedah), Sabahawks Juniors nicked a 2-1 victory.
Meanwhile, Johnny said he will still be without first choice custodian Endre S. Tipay for the clash due to a knee injury during a freak accident during training.

He said Endre is expected to be out of action for another one week at least.
He hinted that he will pick either Robson Rendy of Nikyus Saiddatul as his ball stopper.
Zackkalani Antanom is another player that will miss the tie.

The Keningau-born striker received his third yellow card in the two-all draw with Bukit Jalil Sports School in their last tie at the Likas Stadium.
However, Johnny said Super League-based striker Leopold Alfonso Otong is part of his travelling squad, and so is midfielder Sabri Sahar.

Speedy flanker Umareng Bacok is also back from a two-match suspension, so that would give Johnny’s side strength at the right of midfield.
“We will not go there to try to defend. I don’t think it is a wise thing to do. We have a decent squad, and we will start the game with an attacking mind. We will see how things go after the opening 45 minutes, and if there is a need to change our strategy, we will do it when necessary,” said Johnny.

Sabahawks Juniors will go into the battle holding a five-point gap at the top of the table.
They occupy the top spot on 42 points, while second placed Kedah are on 36, while KL Sime Darby are third on 35.

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