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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Justin: A match we can’t afford to lose

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks Juniors continue with their do-or-die mission in the remaining matches of their President’s Cup challenge by taking on Selangor on the road at the Shah Alam Stadium today. The match, which is scheduled to kick off at 4.45pm, is one of the remaining five matches left in the competition, and the one that they just cannot afford to lose, or their hope of making the quarter-finals will be gone with the wind.

 For that reason, head coach Justin Ganai is seeking fullest concentration from his charges against Selangor, whom they lost to in the first round (0-1). Justin also revealed that the team’s failure to stay focused throughout the 90 minutes in matches is one of the reasons why they have failed to add to their nine victories in the league.

 “First of all we need to score goals but we must not neglect the duties at the back. We have been conceding goals with just minutes or even seconds to play and it has cost us valuable points,” he said, before adding one of the fine examples was when they were held to a one-all draw against Johor, who scored the equaliser with three minutes remaining on the clock after Sabah took a first-half lead.

 “Even in the last outing we nearly concede the equaliser to Perlis having taken an early lead. The players must focus until the final whistle,” he said. At the same time, he also called on his players not to give up hope of making the last eight. “We just need to do our part and try to win all our remaining matches starting against Selangor, and wait and see where we stand at the end of the league.

 “I believe that if we can do our job well, I’m quite optimistic we will make it through. But this is definitely a mammoth task for the boys. However, it is not an impossible thing to do,” said Justin. For instance, Justin said it will be a tough task against Selangor, especially playing at their own backyard.

 “But I do believe that our chances of winning are there. As long as we give our best and as I said earlier playing with a high level of concentration, I’m sure the rest will take care of itself,” he added. Sabahawks Juniors are 10th in the 18-team league on 41 points and three adrift of eighth placed Penang from nine wins, 14 draws and nine defeats after 29 matches.

 Negeri Sembilan are level on points but occupy the ninth placing with their superior goal difference. After the Selangor clash, Sabahawks Juniors’ remaining matches are against Terengganu (home – June 24), Armed Forces (home – June 27), Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports Schools (away – July 1) and Sarawak (home – July 4).

 For today’s clash, Justin will be without defender Rawilson Batiul who is serving a three-match ban after collecting his ninth yellow card of the season in the 1-0 win over Perlis here last week. Defender turned midfielder Jenius Karib will also not make the trip as he is still serving his two-match suspension.

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