Kota Kinabalu: Rhinos manager, Rahman Zakaria admits his team is under pressure but assures that he will not push the panic button.
He believes there is plenty of hope for the Rhinos to bounce back as there are plenty of games left to play in the season.
“We realise our position in the league, but we are not about to give up. We will work harder to improve our performance. We will not throw in the towel so long as there is still light at the end of the tunnel,” said Rahman, when met at the Sabah Football Association (Safa) office in Likas after the supreme council members meeting here, Saturday.
Four straight defeats, 3-0 away against Melaka, 2-1 at home against T-Team, 1-0 away to PKNS FC and 2-1 at home to Johor, have raised the alarm for Safa officials to question whether Iraqi coach, Wathiq Naji Jasim should be allowed to continue with the team.
It was debated however, among the supreme council members in their meeting recently, that perhaps the defeats were attributed to a lack of experienced attacking players in front of goal and not due to a lack of commitment on the part of the coach.
The Rhinos, after winning only 6 points from eight matches so far this season, are currently languishing third from the bottom in the 13-team Premier League standing.
So far they only won two of their games, one against SDN Kepala Batas of Penang, and the other against MBJB FC of Johor. The points from the MBJB win, however, were taken away (likewise with all the other teams in the league) as the latter has been kicked out from the league for failing to pay the team’s insurance premium amounting to over RM70,000.
The other three points were won from goal-less draws against Felda United FC from Kuala Lumpur in a home match at the Likas Stadium and two away matches against Shahzan Muda from Pahang and Proton FC of Selangor.
Their inability to score goals has been a major factor to their poor performance, to which Safa officials have acknowledged and deliberated extensively in the meeting.
“The main problem with the team at the moment is its goal scoring ability.
We plan to put an end to this by bringing back former Rhinos striker, Zaykiel Leong.
“We hope his registration with FAM will go smoothly so that he can join the team in May. With him in the squad, we aim to do better and hope to move up in the standings.
“As for the other players, I don’t want to blame them too much for where we are at the moment in the standings. I consider them a new team. They lack experience. The important thing is they are willing to work harder to improve.
“There’s still hope for us to do better. This is football and anything can happen in football. I believe we are still in the race, perhaps not in the race to win the league but still capable of finishing among the top five,” said Rahman.
The Rhinos will have plenty of time to reflect on their performance in recent games to make improvements before facing Sarawak in an away fixture on May 4, right after the league returns from its two-week break.