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Sunday, March 06, 2016

Real test awaits U-19 squad

MATCH PREVIEW By FRANCIS XAVIER
Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Under-19 squad will be put to a real test as they face off with last year’s finalists in their next two home fixtures in the Youth Cup challenge. The Jelius Ating-coached side will take on Selangor in their first home game of the season at the Penampang Stadium today.

The Group A tie is scheduled to kick off at 4.15pm. After the date with the defending champions, Sabah will face last year’s losing finalists SSMP U-17 side (Malaysia Sports School Pahang) at the same venue on March 9. Despite having to take on the favourites early in the season, Jelius said it is not a reason for them to be afraid.

 Instead, he added, it spurs them to work harder in search of victory and prove that their 2-1 win over Negeri Sembilan on the road last week was no fluke. “This is our first home game, and of course we will try our best to get a desirable result,” said Jelius when met yesterday.

 “It will be good if we can do a good job because victory over the champions will inject greater spirit and confidence into the team. “I hope our players will be able to execute our game plan, and play their hearts out,” he said, adding that he will take one game at a time in search for glory.

 “We will take one game at a time. For now, our main focus is Selangor. After this, then we switch our attention to our next game,” he said. Commenting on their opener against Negeri Sembilan, Jelius said it was not a good first half. “We were a little nervous, maybe because that was our first game.

We had a nervy first half, but we still managed to score two goals. In the second half, we played much better, and created numerous opportunities to extend our lead, unfortunately, we failed to find the net. Jelius also hinted that he is sticking to his first team that earned the three points in Negeri Sembilan.

 In the tie, Jelius named Mazlan Norli as his first choice goalkeeper while Prosper George and Ranilson Batuil, will be at the heart of the defence with Jeniun Karib on the left side of the backline and Kelvin Pengiran on the right. In midfield, Mohd Aidil Shahrolmizan Asimin and Mohd Aidil Safee will orchestrate the team’s engine room with Stanley Sulong at the right of midfield while Leonardo Lisua on the left.

 He is also sticking to his two-man strikers Arius Jais and Hamran Peter. Both players scored a goal each in their opening win last week. For the record, Selangor also got off to a winning start with a 2-1 home win over SSMP U-17.

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