KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria praised the Rhinos for returning home with a point despite facing “off the field problems” ahead of the Shahzan Muda clash at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan, Pahang on Monday.
The Rhinos had hardly any sleep prior to the clash after their flight was delayed for almost 12 hours.
They were initially supposed to fly with a morning flight with AirAsia from Kota Kinabalu on Sunday, but unfortunately it was delayed to late evening.
They reached the national capital at about 12.30am before taking a bus to Kuantan.
By the time they arrived at the hotel, it was almost 6am.
But despite all the difficulties, the players played their hearts out to secure a point. With a little bit of luck, it could have been three points.
“They deserve to be given a pat on their back. They showed high fighting spirit, and we have to congratulate the coaching staff too, especially our head coach Wathiq Naji for their commitment and dedication in assuring the team’s success despite having to overcome such unwanted circumstances,” Rahman said.
Rahman was delighted to note that the team maintained their unbeaten run after four matches into the season.
“It is good to see that we not only managed to maintain our unbeaten streak, but have also yet to concede a goal in the League. This is good for the team, and I hope we will be able to keep it that way for the rest of the season,” the Rhinos’ team manager added.
After the completion of last night’s fixtures, the National Under-19 team maintained their pole position in the 14-team standings on 12 points.
They edged MBJB of Johor 1-0 in an away battle to stay two points clear of second placed Johor, who were held to a one-all draw by T-Team FC of Terengganu in another Premier League tie in Kuala Terengganu.
But T-Team FC are still ahead of fourth placed Sabah on a better goal average to sit in third. Both teams are level on eight points.
The Premier League is now taking a one-month break and would resume on March 13 where Sabah will take on Felda United at home.
Rahman also revealed that during the break, they are trying to organise friendly matches, probably outside the State Capital so as to keep the team’s fitness level high.
“We will try to do our best and bring them to play one or two competitive friendly matches during the break. At the moment, we have no destination just yet.”
The Rhinos are taking a three-day break upon their return from Kuantan.