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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pressure mounts on Simunic

BY FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my
BAD DAY … Sabah’s Alto Linus (left) controls the ball during their clash against DRB-Hicom FC in a Premier League tie at the Likas Stadium on Friday.
 KOTA KINABALU: Pressure is mounting on Vjeran Simunic as Sabah Rhinos struggle for their first league win continues. They slumped to their third straight defeat in the league on Friday after losing to KL DRB-Hicom FC. The 2-0 loss left them rooted second from bottom in the 12-team standings with no point to show.

 Tenth place JDT II and ATM, languishing at the bottom of the table, are the other two teams that have yet to get any points after 270 minutes of Premier League action. But things certainly don’t look good for Simunic and his boys. The Croatian is desperate to get the team to get their act right. Against DRB-Hicom FC, they put up quite a decent show, but there seemed to be something missing which Simunic needs to address.

 Commenting on their defeat to DRB-Hicom FC, the Croatian blamed inexperience. He said his young squad needs a little more time to get their momentum right. Simunic, 62, who is in his first season with the team, believes that the outcome could have been different had Sabah Rhinos converted the few chances that they had, including a Dedi Kusnandar’s 22nd minute effort that hit the foot of the goal post early on.

 “Again we did not score from our chances…we cannot play (to create) chances only. This is a young team and I still believe in this team. They were not playing badly especially in the second half but Hicom have more experience to win the game,” Simunic admitted. Sabah Rhinos conceded the opener after 38th minute of play where Muhammad Fakrul Aiman Sidid blasted home from close range for DRB Hicom before Muhammad Nazri Mohd Kamal sealed their victory with his 72nd minute long-range effort.

 “We tried to do something including making tactical switch by sending Ummareng (Bachok) for (Marco) Tulio to enable us to play with two strikers in Leo (Leopold Alfonso) and Prince (Tochukwu Nnake). “But they scored the second goal…it is not a goal created by the opponents,” he said referring to Nazri’s opportunist strike. Asked on his Brazilian signing Marco, who is one of the more experienced player in the squad, Simunic admitted that he had a quiet night. The Brazilian playmaker was back in the starting line-up after a hamstring problem but “Marco is not yet 100 per cent fit but he came into the game because he wanted to help the team. He created the chances for Dedi but unfortunately he lost the ball under pressure from two players and the opponents scored,” he said.

 With the latest defeat, Simunic admitted he’ll have a tough task lifting team spirit. “Of course morale is down and that the bad schedule means we will play our next game in three days time. “It will be difficult for us,” he said on their date with high riding Kuala Lumpur at the Selayang Municipal Stadium on Monday (February 29).

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