KOTA KINABALU: Md Reithuddin Ag Embran has called on his team-mates to show more steel as he vows to guide Sabah to their first major trophy in more than a decade.
The Labuan-born defender insists they are holding the edge – albeit a slightest one – over their rivals in the race to the Premier League crown, but admitting it is not going to be an easy route to glory though.
Sabah is currently in third on 35 points, four points behind league leaders KL Felda United who has played a game more.
Second placed Selangor PKNS is ahead by one point, but Sabah is also playing lesser game by one over the club side while fourth placed Armed Forces are four points behind Sabah.
Harimau Muda is currently in six on 28 points followed by Sarawak on 25.
Reithuddin insists with only six matches remaining there is no room for slip up and that it is important for the team to toughen up mentally.
So now he demands the best from his teammates while urging them to fight tooth and nail in realising their common dream.
For the record, the last time Sabah won major trophy in the M-League scene was in 1996 when they then Premier League crown (now the Super League).
Madzalan Emoi, who is currently still with the team, is the only survival from the winning squad.
On paper Reithuddin said: “I think we are holding the slight advantage. We are taking on the lower teams in our last six matches. In the other hand Felda United will still need to face the likes of Selangor PKNS, Harimau Muda and Armed Forces, whom they will play in their last three fixtures.”
“With that in mind, these teams, including Felda United, will be dropping some points in those matches. So I would say that our chances look rather bright,” the Sabah skipper said.
Reithuddin, who are one of the few players making a comeback into the State squad early this season, added: “It is also important for us not to be over confident. We have to take and treat our opponents the same and go down to the battle field with only one mission and that is to win.”
“We have been going great lately and I hope it will go on until the end of the season.
“Although we will be facing the lower teams, but it will not be easy, so it is important for us to at least maintain our game or better still try to improve on some of our weaknesses,” said Reithuddin before pointing out that Sarawak is their biggest in their remaining games.
Reithuddin, who has been one of the driving forces at the team’s backlines, said that they need to strengthen their midfield to make the team a more formidable side.
“Midfield is one area that we need to focus because that is a very important department. We have young midfielders in the like of Radzi (Mohd Hussin) and Mohd Farid (Saibun), so we need to help and assists them in any way we can in a game because I believe team work is one important factor for this team to achieve success.
Reithuddin started his career with the State Reserve League squad in the late 90s before being promoted into the senior side in 2000.
He played for Sabah for six seasons before opting for greener pastures by signing for Perlis in 2007. He was with the Northern Lion for two seasons before joining Melaka in 2009.
Sabah six remaining games are against Shahzan Muda at home tonight followed by the away clash to Johor MP Muar on May 28.
After the away trip, the league will be taking a long break and when they league resume, Sabah will be in a Borneo Derby clash against Sarawak on July 9 at the Likas Stadium.
Their last three matches are against Penang USM FC (away), Melaka (home) and KL Pos Malaysia (away).