KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria said the Rhinos must go the “extra mile” if they harbour any hope of doing well in the Premier League.
He believes that only by doing so they can be a step ahead of their rivals.
“With no foreign players in the M-League scene, I think all teams are almost equal in strength. So in order for us to be ahead of the rest, we need to work extra hard. And with a relatively new-look outfit, we certainly need to work and work extra hard,” the Rhinos’ team manager said.
“Furthermore, success is all down to hard work,” he added.
“As long as the players are willing to do it, which I believe they will, I’m very sure we will be there up for the challenge.
Another thing, Rahman pointed out was that the team must also try to be consistent.
The Rhinos played their first away tie of the season on Monday, and Rahman had mixed feelings after seeing the Rhinos settle for a 0-0 stalemate against Proton FC at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras.
While relieved to see the Rhinos manage to return home with a point, he was a little disappointed that his side failed to play up to expectations.
“I don’t think we played our best football in the game.
“When you are not playing your best game and collect a point, you have no complaints (of getting a point).
“But then again, you cannot be satisfied with what the team has achieved because we could have done better if we played to our best ability.
“I’m not happy with our overall performance because we can certainly play better than this.
“Inconsistency has been our problem in the past, so now I want the players to realise that they will not go any further if they cannot be consistent!
“It is still early in the season and I don’t want this yo-yo performance to continue.
“We need to wake up and start or at least try to be consistent,” Rahman said.
But Rahman does not want to take away the credit from players who played well on the night.
Among them are goalkeeper Irwan Jamil, teenager Leopold Alphonso, Hardy Charles Paris, Mohd Fariss Azlan Mat Isa and Zainizam Marjan to name a few.
“Irwan was excellent. He saved numerous sure-goal chances, including two one-on-one attempts from the Proton FC players. He was surely our man of the match on the night,” said Rahman.
He was also impressed with Leopold, stating that the teenager is a gifted player.
“I think he was born to be a footballer. Despite his inexperience, he adapted pretty well to life in the Premier League,” said Rahman.
Rahman said there are also players who performed below par.
“I think they know who they are and I hope they will improve. This is football and we understand we cannot expect players to play their best all the time, but what I want to see is for them not to stop trying even though it was not their night because the team needs people to stand up and fight for each other and be counted as men.”
The Premier League is taking about a month’s break before it resumes on February 9 where Sabah is scheduled to take on newcomers MBJB FC of Johor at the Likas Stadium.
And the Rhinos’ Head Coach Wathiq Naji Jasim has about three weeks or so to fine tune his side as Sabah will be involved in the first round of the FA Cup challenge taking on Kuala Lumpur on January 31 in an away battle while the return leg has been set for February 3.