KUALA LUMPUR: High-riding Sabah take on Armed Forces in a tricky home date at the Likas Stadium tonight.
It will be a massive game too considering that their opponents are one of the four teams that are still in a fight for the Premier League crown.
Considering that KL Felda United FC and fourth-placed Selangor PKNS are having an easy night by taking on Melaka and Penang USM FC respectively away, there are no two ways for Sabah but to get the better of their opponents for the second time this season.
In the first round, Sabah walked home as 1-0 victors in an away tie, and tonight, expectations are high for them to repeat the feat.
Even coach and manager Gary Phillips is quietly confident of his charges doing a good job for the team.
But he admitted that it will not be an easy task especially when they hardly have had a good rest following their 1-0 victory over Harimau Muda last Friday.
Furthermore, the condition of the field at the Likas Stadium is currently not at its best due to the rainy days.
Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for the team not to do well.
“We have been travelling lately, and obviously I’m a little worried about my players. Against Harimau Muda they looked tired, but I hope they will be okay tomorrow,” said Gary.
Gary said as long as the team go into the game with the right attitude and play their hearts out and as a team then their chances will be good.
“It is important for us to go there with the right attitude. We have to focus and give fullest concentration for 90 minutes. If we do that we will be okay,” he added.
On how important the game is for the team, he said: “Every game is important (from now on), and this one against Armed Forces is no exception. We have to keep winning in order to catch Felda, which is a hard thing to do.”
“Furthermore, we have the aspiration to play at the next level, it is important for us to show that we are able and capable of playing under any circumstances, and I hope the players will show that tomorrow.
On his line-up, Gary is still tinkering on whether to bring in fresh legs or retaining his winning side.
“I’m still considering a few options, and I’ll make up my mind after our training tonight (last night).
If Gary is to retain his winning squad that have notched back to back victories over Selangor PKNS and Harimau Muda, then Mohd Farid Ideris, who scored the winner last Friday, and Bobby Gonzales will spearhead the attack while Alto Linus and Shahrul Azhar Ture will be at the left and right of midfield respectively.
Radzi Mohd Hussin and Zainizam Marjan will be the men at the middle of the park while the team’s back five – Julamri Muhammad, Rosdin Wasli, skipper Md Reithuddin Ag Embran, Gasili Pengalot and goalkeeper Azizon Abdul Kadir, who have done a brilliant job, only letting in a mere one goal in their last five outings, will be retained as well.
For the record, Sabah are on a fine run, and tonight we could see them stretching their unbeaten run to nine matches in a row.
They are currently second in the standings on 32 points, three behind Felda United and two ahead of both Armed Forces and Selangor PKNS. The gap between the top four teams makes this the team’s biggest match of the season with another seven matches left to play, including tonight’s fixture.
And it would be great to see if the fans can turn up in full force and support the team to victory over Armed Forces.