Source : New SabahTimes
‘Our next three games in the first round will be very important as it could decide how good our chances are of fighting for promotion. Victory is now crucial for the team because only that would help put our challenge back on track. So I want the player
KOTA KINABALU: Despite extending their unbeaten run to eight games in a row in all competitions with the two-all draw with Johor Pasir Gudang on Tuesday, Sabah still find themselves at the wrong end of the Premier League standings.
The one-point collected from the league tie at the Likas Stadium did not help them much, but instead saw them drop a rung down from ninth to 10th in the 11-team standings with a mere seven points to show after seven games played thus far. And their current position certainly doesn’t look good in their bid to fight for the two promotion slots to the Super League next season as they are now trailing by 10 points from current league leaders UPB/My Team.
With only three matches left before the league enters it half way mark, there is no place for any more slip-ups from the Rhinos. In fact their remaining three first round matches will be crucial for the team. Even team manager Rahman Zakaria admitted that their chances of keeping the pace with the top teams will much depend on their remaining first round matches where they will be up against Police, UPB/My Team and Shahzan Muda.
“Our next three games in the first round will be very important as it could decide how good our chances are of fighting for promotion.
“Victory is now crucial for the team because only that would help put our challenge back on track. “So I want the players to realise that even a draw (the last three first round games) will not be good enough to save our season,” Rahman said. Despite their current position, Rahman refused to concede defeat as far as their quest for promotion is concerned. “I think we are still pretty much in it (in contention for promotion). But I got to admit that we have to do it the hard way from now on in the sense that we must try to win as many matches as possible (remaining matches).
“I also hope the players do not take the Premier League lightly because they have to understand that gaining promotion is our top priority this season,” said Rahman. On the game against Johor PG on Tuesday, Rahman said: “Well what can I say. That’s football where anything can happen even in the very last minute. I think we paid the price for a lapse in concentration towards the end that saw them score the equaliser.” “But overall, I don’t think that was our best game. In fact I could say that this was one of those days where the team just couldn’t click the way we wanted them to.
“Nevertheless, they tried their best, but maybe last night (Tuesday) our best was not enough to get the team back to winning ways in the competition. “But I firmly believe that this team will finally get back to winning ways in the league. “They have been great in the Malaysia Cup, and there is no reason why they cannot do the same in the league. I guess it is just a matter of time before we finally get our winning rhythm in the league,” added Rahman.
Against Johor PG, Arkadiusz Jerzy Zarlzynski or better known as Eric among his team-mates put Sabah into the lead with what could be the fastest goal in the league when his dipping shot from about 35 metres went straight into the back of the Johor PG net only after less than 35 seconds of play. But Tembo Masauso put Johor PG on level terms with a well-taken free-kick in the 34th minute before Eric restored Sabah’s lead five minutes from time. Mohd Hamzani Omar scored the equaliser for Johor PG in injury time. Sabah’s next league game is an away tie against Police on March 23 before they take on UPB/My Team at home on March 30. They would conclude their first round campaign by playing away to Shahzan Muda on April 3.
In between these league matches, Sabah are also scheduled to play Police at home in a Malaysia Cup tie on March 17, before they take on Johor FC away in a FA Cup second round match on March 17. The second round of the Premier League resumes on April 6 where Sabah will take on Police at home.