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Monday, February 15, 2016

Silva to partner lethal Nnake

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Rhinos head coach Vjeran Simunic is likely to keep faith on the same side that were embarrassingly beaten 4-1 by UiTM FC when they take on Kuantan FA in a Premier League challenge at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan tonight. However, the Croatian is expected to make a formation change, by switching from 4-2-3-1 to the more familiar 4-4-2 system as he bids to make a quick rebound following their loss in the opener last Friday.

 Brazilian midfielder Marco Tulio Lopes Silva is likely to move up and pair the lanky Nigerian striker Prince Tochukwu Nnake, who was the Rhinos lone striker against UiTM FC. That would leave Radzi Hussin and Dedi Kusnandar orchestrating the team’s engine-room with Maxsius Musa and Leopold Alfonso Otong deployed at the right and left of midfield respectively.

 At the backline, Alto Linus will also be retained on the right side while Julamri Muhammad, who captained the new-look Sabah Rhinos, on the left with Croatian Igor Cerina and Rawilson Batuil, who limped out of the game against UiTM FC with a foot problem, will be at the heart of the defence.

 Goalkeeper Mohd Fadzley Abdul Rahim who conceded the last three goals (against UiTM FC), is also likely to keep his spot in the team. Simunic said they have watched a video recording of the UiTM match as part of their preparation. “We have identified the weaknesses and from there try to rectify and improve as a team,” Simunic said yesterday.

 He said Sabah Rhinos were the better team for much of the game against UiTM but for the last 20 minutes, they allowed their opponent to score three sloppy goals. “We are determined to try to get something positive out of this game against Kuantan,” said Simunic. While, Sabah Rhinos kicked off their challenge on the wrong footing, on the other hand, Kuantan FA, had a modest start, by holding Negeri Sembilan to a one-all draw away.

 The heavy defeat to UiTM FC saw Sabah Rhinos lying second from bottom after round one of the fixtures while joint seventh with Negeri Sembilan. Perlis lead the 12-team standings on goal difference following their 6-1 win over the Armed Forces with UiTM FC, DRB-Hicom FC and Kuala Lumpur also making a winning start to the season.

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