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Friday, February 26, 2016

Eyeing first League win

MATCH PREVIEW By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my
MARCO TULIO … will make a return from injury.
 KOTA KINABALU: Vjeran Simunic will be hoping their comfortable 3-0 win over MOF FC in the second round of the FA Cup will be enough tonic to spur them to their first Premier League victory when they take on DRB-Hicom at the Likas Stadium tonight. The Sabah Rhinos head coach knows this will be another tough fixture for his side, but he remains adamant that a win is within reach if his charges can put extra effort in the game, or at least play like they did against MOF FC last Saturday. Simunic, 62, is fully aware of how important victory is for his side after kick starting their campaign with two opening defeats on the road prior to the FA Cup win.

 He knows too well that his side cannot continue losing their league games as a third defeat in a row (in the league challenge) will put them under tremendous pressure especially now that they are languishing second from bottom in the 12-team standings.

 The good thing is all the bottom four teams are still without any point, which makes victory tonight kind of a must win tie for the state side, which if happens could be enough to move them out of the relegation zone. The mood in the team, Simunic said is pretty much good, and that they are in the right spirit to do another good job on home turf. “The atmosphere in the team is much better now following our win in the FA Cup competition.

 “We also have good news that Marco Tulio (Lopes Silva) will make a return from injury (hamstring). So now, we have our strongest squad available and I expect the same result (against MOF FC) if they can maintain or improve on their performance last Saturday,” Simunic said. He added: “DRB-Hicom FC are a good team and they are strengthened by good foreign players. They have an ex-Liverpool defender Godwin Antwi in their side, and they also have a good and experienced striker Ivan Babic.”

The Croatian coach urged his charges to be cautious with Babic, as the 32-year-old DRB-Hicom hitman may be up there in the years but still packs a sting to cause a menace for defenders. He scored twice in the team’s two matches recently including in their 2-1 defeat to Police in the FA Cup tie last week.

 “He is the target man of the team and he is dangerous with the ball but I am confident my defenders can keep him at bay. “We respect them as a team of course, but we trust ourselves, and I believe in my players as well as our fans. We also have a good field and we are hungry for more victory and will do anything to make our fans happy,” he said. In their opening games, Sabah Rhinos suffered successive 4-1 defeats to UiTM FC and Pahang Kuantan FA.

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