KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos registered their second consecutive win and fifth of the season, but there is no room for celebrations as yet as they have plenty to prove!
The convincing 3-0 victory over Melaka on Friday, who are at the bottom in the 13-team standings, was however just the right platform for the Rhinos to revive their fading promotion hopes.
Prior to the clash, they edged Felda United FC 2-1 at the same venue.
Team manager Rahman Zakaria while happy with the win, was quick to caution the players from being complacent.
“We cannot get carried away by the two victories because we are not in a position where we can afford more slip-ups.
“From now on, the most important thing (for the team) is to be consistent. We must keep winning matches, be it away or at home. There is certainly no room for any blunders.
“On the part of the players, they have plenty to prove and show to the fans that they are up for the challenge.
And Rahman believes as long as the players can show consistency in their game, there is no reason why Sabah will not be a genuine title contender in the league which approaches its half-way mark soon.
“The team is getting better and all the planning from the chief coach (Drago Mamic) is efficiently practised on the field.
“We deserved to win … thank you to the fans also who have been very supportive of the team,” said Rahman.
Sabah’s return to winning ways coincided with the signing of Brazilian striker Andre Scotti Ossemer who brought his tally to three goals in just two games for his new team.
After scoring a brace against Felda United, including one from the spot, Andre found the net again after 63 minutes against Melaka that paved the way to more goals from Jamie Phoenix (86th minute) and Zulamri Mohammad (injury time).
But despite Andre’s scoring feat, Rahman said all the players deserved a pat on the back as all of them were brilliant, while wanting them to keep showing such determination and commitment.
“We created many chances but only three went in. But then again I could not ask for more as they have done their best and a three-goal victory is good … I’m happy with the result.
“Now we must try to close the gap on the leaders and for that we must be able to play consistently … I believe we will be a strong contender for the league title if we can do it,” he added.
But Sabah paid a heavy price for the victory as their lively winger Chow Chee Wing suffered a leg injury after a rough tackle from an opponent. Chow is the latest to be added to the casualty list along with team skipper Rosdin Wasli who suffered a similar fate against Felda United.
And Rahman is keeping his fingers crossed that the duo would make the team for the Rhinos’ next game away to Shahzan Muda of Pahang in 10 days time (Feb 11).
The victory also saw Sabah remain fifth after collecting 17 points to trail fourth placed Kelantan, who drew 1-1 with Johor Pasir Gudang, by two points.
Johor Pasir Gudang retained their second position on 23 points while Kuala Muda Naza of Kedah extended their lead at the top to 27 points having beaten Kuala Lumpur 3-2.
Results elsewhere saw KL Plus FC thrashing Proton FC 5-0, Harimau Muda (national under-19 team) edge Felda United 3-0, and the Armed Forces (ATM) defeat PKNS Selangor 2-0.