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Friday, June 21, 2013

Playoff berth up for grabs

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Caretaker coach Johnny Dominicus will be eyeing victory when they return to Premier League action after a one-month break by taking on Police at the Likas Stadium today. Johnny, who shares the responsibility of managing the team alongside fitness coach Andrew Majanggim and goalkeeper coach Mark Damun, following the resignation of head coach David McCreery on Monday, insists a win is a must in order to strengthen their grip on fifth spot, which would guarantee them one of the two Malaysia Cup playoff slots.

 “We will surely need to win this tie, no doubt about that,” he said, when contacted yesterday. “Despite what is going on around the team, the spirit in the camp is still pretty much high. I don’t think there is any problem, because I have been with the team all this while,” said Johnny, who was McCreery’s assistant before the latter’s shock departure.

 “We will stick to the same game plan or formation, but with a slightly different approach,” he added. With automatic entry as good as out of reach, a win over Police will virtually seal their spot in the Malaysia Cup playoff, which will be played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on July 10.

 For the record, the team that finishes 11th in the Super League will take on the sixth placed team from the Premier League, while the team that languishes at the bottom of the Super League will be pitted against the fifth placed team in the Premier League with the winners of both matches completing the 16-team Malaysia Cup.

 The top 10 teams in the Super League and the top four teams (Sarawak, Sime Darby FC, Johor FA and Kedah) in the Premier League gain automatic entry into the competition. The Malaysia Cup, dubbed as the country’s oldest and most prestigious competition is expected to kick off in August. There are only three matches left before the Premier League closes its curtains, and for Sabah, winning two of those matches would see them make a top-five finish, which would be quite an achievement, considering the fact that they started the season disastrously.

 The first team in the Premier League to be relegated to the third-tier FAM Cup competition next season is NS Betaria. Kuala Lumpur, UiTM FC, Perlis and KL SPA are battling relegation with only one of them facing the drop, joining Betaria. Today, Johnny is unlikely to make any major changes to his first team. In fact, he looks set to stick to the same men in his quest for the three points with Shahril Sa’ari remaining as the team’s ball stopper, while Shahrul Azhar Ture at right back and Julamri Muhammad on the left, with Hardy Charles Parsi and Shahril Faizal at the heart of the defence.

 In midfield, Alto Linus is set to be deployed at the left while Shahrudin Yakup on the right, while Rosdin Wasli, Zainizam Marjan and Abdelfatah Safi will be the men at the middle of the park, and striker-in-chief Koh Traore will be the lone man in attack. Syamsuri Mustapha, Jufrey Omopor, Wan Alif, Mohd Farid Saibun, Didie Arizal Ibrahim, Mohd Hafizulldin and Radzi Mohd Hussin are also expected to be among the top 18 players for the clash.

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