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Friday, April 26, 2013

Confidence soaring

Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Super League team are in a great position to hand league leaders KL Sime Darby their first defeat of the season at the Likas Stadium today (Friday). The players' confidence seems to be soaring following their six-match unbeaten run as well as managing their first back-to-back wins of the season last week against KL SPA FC.

 And all eyes will also be on new signing 31-year-old French player and former Kedah import Abdelfatah Aftha Safi who is set to make his debut for Sabah today. The attacking midfielder was recruited by the management to replace Welsh defender Rhys David Weston as their second foreign import in the team for the remainder of the season.

 One of the problems for the team this season was the lack of an advance playmaker who possesses an eye for a pass and hopefully the Frenchman can offer a forward thrust that will benefit the free-scoring Koh Traore even more in the final run for the remaining season. The two teams had met earlier in the season and Sabah came undone with a 1-3 defeat with the only goal scored by Koh.

 The Malian import went through a goal drought in the next five matches before his hat-trick more than a month later against PDRM and since then he has scored seven more goals and he is expected to be a heavily marked man in the match today. But with winger Shahrudin Yakup and veteran striker Zainizam Marjan also starting to find their form in front of goal, Sabah will be in for a good chance to nick all three points today. 

However, the team will be severely weakened by the absence of central defender Shahril Faizal Ahmad Sharifuddin who is suspended for the match and the management may opt for Hafizulldin Mohd Noor to take over his place to partner Hardy Charles Parsi at the heart of their defence. Julamri Mohd who is back to his best is sure to retain his place ahead of Sumardi Hajaln as left back with Sahrul Azhar Ture on the right. 

Captain Rosdin Wasli who was suspended in the previous match is still unavailable today due to injury and his defensive midfield position will be taken by Radzi Hussin with French import Abdelfatah as the creative hub while the pair of Shahrudin Yakup and Alto Linus will mount the attacks from the wings as well as supply the necessary crosses for Zainizam and Koh to score.

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