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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Gunning for positive start

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Juil Nuatim wants his young guns to have a positive start to their President’s Cup 2016 challenge. The state Under-21 side will take on Selangor PKNS FC in a Group B opener at the Likas Stadium today, and the Sabah team manager is expecting nothing less than three points from the tie, which is scheduled to kick off at 4.15pm. “This is our first game of the season, and it will be great if we can have a good start to our campaign,” said Juil, when met by reporters at the team’s photo session at the Likas Stadium here yesterday.

 “I’m quite confident with the boys. And also, our preparations have been as solid as it can be. I think this (preparations) has been the best that we have ever had in recent times. The last few years, it was more like a last minute thing, or a month before the season kicks off, but this time around, I think we have prepared ourselves rather well.

 “Overall, I’m satisfied with our preparations, and I hope the players can do the talking on the field starting tomorrow (today),” he added. On the team’s target, Juil said: “We will take one game at a time, but our preliminary target is to make the quarter-finals, which means, we have to finish among the top four in the group. Assistant team manager Benedict Asmat was also present at the event. 

Meanwhile, head coach Justin Ganai is also confident that his charges will give them a good start. He also concurred with Juil that this time they had the best preparations in facing the new season. “Our preparations went on smoothly as expected. We also played numerous warm-up matches, including in the Safa Cup Quadrangular tournament in Keningau.

 “We also played quite a number of friendly games against local clubs, and also against the state senior team,” Justin said. “I believe that our players are ready for the big day, and I hope they will fulfill our wish of having a good start to our season. Justin was also delighted to note that his charges are in their best shape for the competition.

 “We are still not very familiar with our opponents, but we will not worry too much about that. To me, what is more important is for our team to play to their best capabilities,” he added. Justin also hinted that he is likely to start with Mohd Sakri, Mohd Zulfadlisham, Randy Baruh @ Samson, Shahzrin Sidin, Rickson Pang Tabias, Ikhmal Akid Bahari, Dexy Mildy Juanis, O’Neil Shanahan Marcelinus, Rahmanshah Marajeh and Md Fuad Amin for the tie. He said the rest that will make his top 18 players for the match are Tekson Tubeng, Rexsye Rolland Tamin, Anil, David Ansarui, Mohd Zaki Sapri, Malik Jukup and Klinsmon Aribulan.

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