KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos have been told to make sure that football will remain the No 1 sport in the State!

In making the call, Rahman Zakaria said to do so the team must do well in the Premier League.

At the same time, they must also be consistent and produce results.

Besides that, he added, the players must also show a certain level of standard in their game.

“It is our duty to make sure that in Sabah football is still pretty much alive and kicking,” the Rhinos’ team manager said when met at their friendly match against Tawau at the Likas Stadium on Sunday.

Despite the fact that football in the country is slowly losing its popularity among the public, but in Sabah, Rahman said football is still the No 1 sport in the State.

“The sport has been the highlight of most major national newspapers in the country, but unfortunately most of the time for the wrong reasons. And I believe this is all because of our (national team) rankings in the world.

“It also cannot be denied that in most parts of the country, football is slowly losing its popularity among the public. However, in Sabah, I firmly believe that it is still the No 1 sport.

“For instance, our very own State team still has good followers, especially outside the State Capital.

“Whenever we play friendly matches outside Kota Kinabalu, the response from the public or rather the fans is very encouraging.

“So I hope the players will try to do well in the Premier League, as I believe that is the only way to make the public stick to the game.

On their road show, Rahman said it is an ongoing thing.

“When we have the opportunity, we will always try to go on friendly tours throughout the State.

“Since our pre season, we have been to Kota Belud and Keningau (twice) as well as Labuan. We have also played against Lahad Datu and Tawau here in the State Capital.

“These friendly matches indirectly promote the game besides hunting for talents,” said Rahman.

“I also wish to thank all the fans for their loyalty and support towards the State team. On our part, we will try our best not to disappoint them.

At the same time, Rahman, on behalf of the Sabah FA and the team, expressed his sincere thanks to Tawau as well as Lahad Datu for coming and giving the State team the opportunity to get the much needed friendlies.

“We know we have good supporters in Tawau. As much as we want to go (to Tawau), but we have to consider what is good for the team. But next time around, we will surely be there for our fans in Tawau.”

In the friendly, the Rhinos defeated Tawau 5-0 with skipper Zainizam Marjan scoring twice, while Leopold Alphonso Otong, Zaykiel Leong and Azrul Ejati Damsah netted once each.

At the same time, Rahman also reminded the fans to come and support the team when they resume their Premier League challenge after about a month’s break against Felda United at the Likas Stadium on Friday.

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