KOTA KINABALU: Gary Phillips said yesterday that winning their remaining six games could take them to the Premier League crown.
He then insisted that there will be no easy game for his side before calling on his charges to stay focused on their quest for glory.
“We have to stay focused because if we can win our last six games, we stand a good chance to become champions.
“So we must make sure that we do our job and do it well,” the Sabah coach and manager said ahead of their clash against bottom of the table Shahzan Muda at the Likas Stadium tonight.
Despite taking on a lowly opponent, Gary is in no mood to treat the match lightly, saying that anything can happen.
“We are playing at home, so it is important for us to play well and entertain our fans. If we can play like we did against Selangor PKNS especially in the first 20 minutes, then I think we should be okay (tonight).
“There will be two changes to our squad. We have Gasili Pengalot and Alto Linus suspended.
“So Mafry (Balang) will come in for Gasili, and I have full confidence in him. He has been doing great for the team and has been playing week in week out before he underwent an operation.
“Farid (Saibun) will take over from Alto, and he definitely has a point to prove in order to remain in the first team. Hopefully, both of them will play well and if they do, they stand a chance to keep their positions for our next game.
“They (Shahzan Muda) were playing on Friday and with the travelling, they will be a little tired. On our part we have had a good rest as we were not playing any game (Friday) so it is important for us to play a high tempo game,” said Gary when met at the team’s light training at the Likas Stadium here.
On Sabah’s possibility of going top next Friday, Gary refused to be drawn into the matter, pointing out that they cannot think about the league table and the outcome of the other results.
“I believe that the race is likely to go down to the wire. It will be decided in the last game of the season,” said Gary, who has had a rosy first season thus far.
“There are going to be slip-ups here and there. Injuries and suspensions to key players will affect teams.
“With the league soon having a six-week break, I’m wondering how the team or teams will be when they resume their campaigns.
“On our part, we need to make sure that we always put our feet on the ground.
When put that this will be an easy game for his side, Gary said: “There is no easy game, in football anything can happen. And we have got to give them a lot of respect.”
“I don’t want to put pressure on our players, but they are full of spirit, commitment and confidence.
“There is no easy game, and we won’t take that attitude because if we are to go to another level we can’t let our performance drop,” said Gary.
Tonight, Sabah’s lastest signing Zaykiel Leong and Brando Paul Raj Pillai are set to make it into the first 18 and will be on the reserves bench alongside Mohd Salawi Jasad, Billyton Vun Ket Ming, Razlan Oto, Azrul Ejati Damsah and Madzalan Emoi.
Mohd Farid Ideris and Bobby Gonzales will remain in the frontline with Zainizam Marjan playing behind them while Radzi Mohd Hussin, Shahrul Azhar Ture and Farid Saibun will be at the middle of the park.
Gary’s four-man defence will comprise Md Reithuddin Ag Embran, Rosdin Wasli, Julamri Muhammad and Mafry while Azizon Abdul Kadir will be the ball stopper.