TEST OF NERVES

Source : New SabahTimes

rahman RAHMAN … believes Rhinos capable.

 

KOTA KINABALU: Tonight will be a test of nerves for high-flying Sabah when they take on Kedah in a Malaysia Cup Group C top-of-the-table clash at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Alor Star.

The Rhinos, who have been running great guns in the country’s most prestigious and oldest competition after winning their first two matches, albeit both home ties, are seeking to consolidate their position at the top of the Group C standings. They are currently equal on six points with Kedah, but occupying the top spot on better goal difference. Sabah edged Perak 1-0 in the opener before trouncing Sarawak 3-0 in the Borneo Derby battle.

And tonight, Sabah, who have been struggling for victory in the Premier League challenge, are meeting the fourth Super League outfit in their first battle on the road in the competition.

In their previous matches against these so-called elite squads from the Super League, the Rhinos have emerged as victors with Melaka being their first victim after winning 2-1 in the first round of the FA Cup challenge followed by Perak and Sarawak. But then all of those games were played at the Rhinos’ hunting ground – the Likas Stadium.

So the game against Kedah, who too have been doing great in their Super League challenge as well as the Malaysia Cup, will be the real test for Drago Mamic’s boys, who will be without two key players in Rosdin Wasli and youngster Zulamri Muhammad.

Rosdin will be serving his automatic one-match suspension after collecting his second yellow card in the 3-0 victory over Sarawak on the eve of the Chinese New Year last week, while Zulamri is having a hamstring problem and is unfit to travel to Alor Star. But Sabah will welcome back team skipper Ronny Harun from injury.

The national defender missed the Rhinos’ victory over Sarawak due to injury, but now he is back to his full fitness and should start the game at the backline alongside Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, Prince Eboagwu and S. Sunder.

“We are going there to try to maintain our good run in the competition. We have been playing pretty well (in the Malaysia Cup challenge), and as long as we can play to what we have been doing, for instance like against Perak and Sarawak, I think this match (Kedah) will be a 50-50 affair,” said team manager Rahman Zakaria yesterday.

“Although we are just a bit unfortunate not to have Rosdin and Zulamri for this clash, because they have been doing great for the team, but their absence will not demoralise the team.

“There will be a minor reshuffle to our first team, but I strongly believe even without the duo, we are still capable of giving a good show. “I’m not too worried about Kedah, but it is our own form that matters most. As I have said earlier, as long as we play to our true strength, it is not impossible to return home even with maximum points, but we will still be happy if its ends in a draw,” Rahman added.

Sabah will again rely on its Nigerian hitman Charles Obi to spearhead the Rhinos’ attack with Salvester Sindeh likely to be his striking partner as Polish striker Arkadiusz Jerzy Zarlzynski is expected to play in midfield alongside Chow Chee Wing and P. Rajes, while either Burhan Ajui, Henry Soimpon or Zainizam Marjan would come in for the suspended Rosdin.

G. Jeevanatham would be retained as the team’s number one ball-stopper.

 

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