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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Favourable draw for Sabah Rhinos

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Rhinos have been given a relatively easy draw in the FA Cup challenge. They are pitted against FAM Cup outfit Kuala Lumpur MOF (Ministry of Finance) FC in the second round of the competition. The match will be played at the Likas Stadium.

 The date has not been fixed, but it could be either on February 19 or February 20. Sabah FA Secretary General Alijus Hj Sipil when contacted said the FA of Malaysia will only confirm the date of the tie next week when they release the full fixtures. The draw was held at one of the leading hotels in Shah Alam yesterday.

 Sabah were represented by team manager Datuk Hj Nizam Abu Bakar Titingan at the draw. On paper, Sabah Rhinos, who are currently under the watchful eyes of Croatian head coach Vjeran Simunic, should face no trouble of making it into the round of 16, where they could face either Kuantan FA or Penang. Sabah won their only FA Cup title back in 1995 with a 3-1 win over Pahang in the final.

 The Rhinos also featured in three finals but lost to Kuala Lumpur 1-2 and 1-3 in 1993 and 1994, while they lost 0-1 to Johor in 1998 despite the final being played at the Likas Stadium. For the record, Singapore’s Lions XII are the defending champions of the FA Cup after beating Kelantan 3-1 in the 2015 final.

 However, they will no longer feature in any M-League competition this upcoming new season. Meanwhile, Bernama reported this time around, the FA Cup will see 35 teams from the Super League, Premier League and FAM League. However, the season will begin with stage one involving 11 teams from the FAM League.

 Five of the 11 teams received a bye while six other teams have to compete in an elimination round on Jan 30 to enter stage two. Awaiting them in stage two will be 12 teams from the Super League and 12 teams from the Premier League. “Unlike previous years, there will be no seeded teams in the FA Cup this year and it will be an open draw as well,” said Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership Chief Executive Officer Kevin Ramalingam.

 This means last year’s FA Cup runners-up Kelantan will not be placed as a seeded team and their position in the second round is also via the drawing process. All matches in stage two of the FA Cup will played on the knockout system. Meanwhile, the Malaysia Super League and Premier League will kick off on February 13 and February 12 respectively.

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