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Monday, June 10, 2013

Demanding ties… Sabahawks Juniors eyeing quarter-finals

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks Juniors are on two consecutive away ties, a journey that will be a telling factor on where their fate lies in the President’s Cup challenge that is nearing its end. Currently ninth in the 18-team standing, the State Under-21 side have a lot of catching up to do to make it to the quarter-finals. 

On paper, they not only need to win the remaining battles ahead but also hope that teams ahead of them will fumble. There are eight matches left to play before the season ends, and there is little room for error for the State side. Datuk Juil Nuatim is fully aware of the predicament his side is in and is hoping his charges will go for nothing less than the maximum points. Sabahawks Juniors’ first opponent in this trip will be Johor, who are currently sitting second in the standings.

 Today’s clash will be played at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council Stadium at 4.45pm today before taking on Penang on Thursday. “We need a positive result (against Johor). A good outing (against Johor) will be just the right tonic for our game against Penang (June 13),” the Sabah team manager said. “This is going to be a difficult trip, but we have to believe in ourselves in getting the job done.

 “Johor are a very strong side and their league position justify that…that is why we need to work extra hard to give us any chance against them,” he added. Ninth placed Sabahawks Juniors are on 36 points after playing in 26 matches with eight wins, 12 draws and six defeats. Johor, on the other hand, are second in the 18-team table on 56 points and trail the defending champions and leaders Perak by a mere point.

 Juil predicts that this is going to be an exciting match against the Southern State team, insisting that both teams are aiming for victory. “They have home ground advantage, and of course they want to pick up all the three points. On the other hand, we are in a position that anything less than three points will jeopardise our chances in making the quarter-finals and I have told the boys to go for the three points,” he added.

 The match I’m sure will be exciting because both teams have targets to be achieved…we will try our best,” said Juil. “Bob (assistant coach Burhan Ajui) will take over the squad and I’m sure he will be okay in leading the team from the dugout” he said on head coach Justin Ganai who will not be part of the team for the two matches due to work commitment.

 This will be the first outing for Sabahawks Juniors in around 10 days since the heartbreaking 1-1 draw against Negeri Sembilan on May 30. The first round meeting between Sabahawks Juniors vs Johor ended in a stalemate draw (0-0) at the Likas Stadium.

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