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Friday, April 19, 2013

Sabah bank on Koh

Daily Express/ New Sabah Times
IN SCORING MODE … file picture of Koh (right), during their season opener tie against KL SPA Putrajaya FC last January, 2013. Shahrul Azhar Ture’s brace was enough for the host to see off their opponents.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah are chasing their second win in the second round of the Premier League season against KL SPA Putrajaya FC today (Friday) at the Stadium Permata Petronas Bangi in Kuala Lumpur. The team coached by David McCreery will be banking on their current good form to extend their five-match unbeaten run by winning their first back to back win of the season.

 The two teams had met earlier in the season opener with Sabah emerging 2-1 winners at home courtesy of goals from Shahril Azhar Ture. A keenly contested affair is on the cards as only one place separate the teams with Sabah currently a place above their opponents in seventh position. Koh Traore will again be the main man to steer Sabah to get the three points today.

 The Malian striker who was jeered at the start of the season appeared a different man after his hat-trick against Police on February 22. Since then he had scored five more goals in three matches. The team will be praying that he will continue to deliver to compensate for the fragile defence which have been leaking easy goals in the past. The match today will also see the return of Welsh international Rhys Weston in the starting lineup in place of captain Rosdin Wasli who is serving a match suspension after collecting three yellow cards.

Rhys who is lacking match fitness after a long lay off because of injury will have to be at the top of his game if he is to win back the management's trust in regaining his place in the team. The management is most likely to retain the same set of players that have been performing in the past few matches with Zainizam Marjan playing a deeper role to support Koh and the midfield will feature either Didie Arizal or Radzi Hussin to partner Ryhs while the two wingers are Alto Linus and Shahrudin Yakup.

 Left back Julamri Moahammad, who had a fantastic first game after more than a year out with surgery followed by another injury blow, is to start the match at the expense of Sumardi Hajalan. Joining him in defence will be Charles Parsi, Hafizulldin Mohd Noor and Sharul Azhar Ture as the right back with former Harimau Muda keeper Sharil Saa'ri to start in goal.

KOTA KINABALU: David McCreery will again be looking at his striker-in-chief Koh Traore to deliver the goals when they take on KL SPA Putrajaya in a Premier League tie at the UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam today. The Malian striker has been in sensational form of late where he scored eight goals in the last five matches, including a hat-trick in their comeback draw (3-3) against Police.

 The Burkina Faso-born Traore also netted twice in the 3-2 home win over Perlis in their last fixture. And McCreery, who will be seeking to extend their unbeaten run to six in a row, will be praying that Traore will continue with his scoring spree against KL SPA, whom they edged 2-1 at home, in the season opener last January. However, this time around, the second match of the second round will be a different ball game. Last time out, KL SPA Putrajaya was an all-local side, but for this tie, according to McCreery, they (KL SPA) will be strengthened by two foreign signings they acquired during the current transfer window. Having said that, McCreery remains upbeat his charges will produce another positive result.

 “The spirit in the team is high, and all of them are pretty much looking forward to the clash,” he said, when contacted yesterday. “They have been working hard in training and are now ready for the match. “Although they are behind us in the standings, but we still have to work hard and give our best in the game,” he added. And McCreery knows how important this tie is for his side.

 A victory could see them move into the Malaysia Cup qualification position, currently occupied by Police and KL Pos Malaysia FC. But with the two teams facing lowly opponents, it is likely that it is going to be status quo after the league’s 13th matches of the season. The three teams – Police, KL Pos Malaysia FC and Sabah – are level on 15 points, and only separated by goal difference. For the record, only the top four teams in the Premier League gain automatic entry for the Malaysia Cup, while the fifth and sixth placed teams will have to go through playoffs with the 11th and 12th placed teams of the Super League.

 And with the league running thick and fast, there really isn’t much room for error for any team if they harbour any hope to at least make it into the Malaysia Cup. With the exception of midfielder Rosdin Wasli, who is missing the trip through suspension, the rest of the players are available for options, including Rhys David Weston, who is set to make only his third start in the league.

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