Source : New SabahTimes
STRIKER-IN-CHIEF … Charles Obi (red) is the Premier League’s leading scorer with 11 goals under his belt thus far.
KOTA KINABALU: With less than seven matches left to play and games coming thick and fast there is little room for error at least for Sabah’s case as the Premier League race draws to an exciting climax.
Although, they are pretty much in the race for the two promotion slots to the Super League next season, but they just cannot afford any slip-ups, starting with tonight’s tie against Kuala Muda Naza at the Likas Stadium.
But on a positive note, the Rhinos have been riding high since the start of the second round campaign where they are on a four-match winning streak, with the top two teams – Police and UPB-MyTEAM among their victims.
“We are in a situation where we just cannot afford to slip any points away from our grasp. From now on, only victory will count … to keep our fight for promotion on track,” Rahman Zakaria said.
Sabah are currently in third place on 23 points in the 11-team standings – five points behind leaders Police, who have a game in hand. UPB-MyTEAM are second on 25 points.
PKNS are also on 23 points, but Sabah stay ahead of the club side on a better goal average, followed by Kuala Lumpur in fifth on 18 points.
“When you look at the standings, I think the top four or five teams are still in the hunt for the two promotion tickets to the Super League next season.
“So the teams that can maintain their consistency or rather winning momentum will be the winners at the end of the day,” the Rhinos’ team manager added.
And with Sabah taking on lowly Kuala Muda Naza and having the slight home-ground advantage, this will be an opportunity for them to climb up as both Police and UPB-MyTEAM will have a tricky night.
Police face fifth-placed Kuala Lumpur at the MPS Stadium in Selayang, while UPB-MyTEAM take on Selangor PKNS at the Shah Alam Stadium.
And if UPB-MyTEAM fumble then Sabah will have the opportunity to unseat them from the second spot with a good victory over Kuala Muda Naza.
“We are not looking for a big win. What is important now is the three points. But nevertheless, a good victory will do the team good,” Rahman said.
On their chances, Rahman said: “We are ready and prepared to face them. We know where we stand … and although we have defeated them (2-1 in the first round), we will certainly not take them lightly.
“We are not taking any chances … an all-out attacking game will be the order of the day,” said Rahman.
“I firmly believe that the coach (Drago Mamic) has his winning formula in store, and the players have been doing great in training … I’m quite confident of achieving a positive result tomorrow,” said Rahman.
Sabah will not have the services of defender Ronny Harun, who is with the national team in Australia.
But his absence is not a problem for the Rhinos as they have an adequate replacement.
Furthermore, the ever reliable Ahmad Tharmini Saiban and Nigerian Prince Eboagwu Etuwe will be around to marshal the Rhinos’ back-line.
Newly appointed skipper Rosdin Wasli is also out due to suspension, but again, as proven in the Rhinos’ last match against Pahang, youngsters Zulamri Muhamad and Hardy Charles Parsi are man enough to shoulder the responsibility.
The Rhinos’ leading striker Charles Obi is certain to start in attack alongside Price Ativie Guy.
The speedy Chow Chee Wing, S. Sunder, P. Rajes and Radzi Hussin are also likely to start the game as well with Irwan Jamil retained as the No 1 ball stopper.