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Monday, April 22, 2013

Quarters’ quest begins for Sabahawks Junior

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Juil Nuatim wants his charges to engage the ‘extra gear’ when they resume their President’s Cup second round challenge at the Likas Stadium today. The Sabahawks Junior team manager insists that they must start the round strongly in order to put their quest for a place in the quarter-finals back on the right track.

 The Juniors take on Pahang, whom they met and lost 0-2 away, five days ago. But Juil is optimistic that they can turn the tables on their opponent at home turf. “This first game of the second round will be important for us. It will not only help inject confidence among the players, but will put our challenge back on the right track. So I hope we will get the desirable result against Pahang,” he said when contacted yesterday.

 “Furthermore, our position in the standings is not that convincing, as it warrants us to try our best and to pick up as many points as possible. And it begins with this tie,” he added. Sabah are currently in 10th spot after completing the first round fixtures of 17 matches, leaving them two spots below the quarter-finals berth. “We must improve in the second half of the season and get into the top eight,” Juil concluded.

 For the record, the Sabahawks Juniors ended their first round challenge, with five wins, eight draws and four defeats to share 23 points with Penang, who however are ninth in the 18-team league. Eighth placed Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) are currently holding the last quarter-finals spot on 25 points. High riding Pahang, on the other hand, are in third place having collected 33 points with only Johor (41 points) and Perak (40 points) above them.

 For today’s clash, head coach Justin Ganai is expected to make at least two changes to the side that lost to Pahang last week. Striker-in-chief Rexjeson Pitirus, who was missing the last game through suspension, is likely to make it back into the first team. Rexjeson will give Justin more options to his attacking line, which undeniably is the Achilles’ heel of the team after scoring 12 times in the first round.

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