KOTA KINABALU: AR Haji Shahriman Abdullah believes Sabah stand a good chance of at least making it into the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals after receiving what he described as being a good and favourable draw.
The Sabah FA Honorary Treasurer even went on to say that they were lucky to have been drawn alongside Terengganu, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur in Group B.
On paper, well, he could be right, as having the three teams in the group is far better than facing the likes of Selangor, Kedah, or even Kelantan.
Shahriman, who together with assistant coach cum assistant manager Justin Ganai, represented Sabah FA at the draw held in the national capital yesterday, said now what matters most for the team is to have good preparations.
All four teams from the Premier League, Sabah included, will have Super League opponents in the group, and Sabah seem to be the fortunate lot.
Selangor PKNS, who finished third in the Super League, have been drawn in a tough group that comprises defending champions Negeri Sembilan and last year’s losing finalists Kelantan with KL Plus completing the four-team Group A.
Armed Forces will have Kedah, Johor FC and Perak to beat in the Group C challenge while newly crowned Premier League champions KL Felda United are drawn in Group D together with Super League 2010 champions Selangor, Terengganu T-Team and Perlis.
“It is a good draw and a promising one too. If we play our cards well, our chances of making it into the quarter-finals will be very good.
“I think we are lucky to have been drawn in the group, because if not it would have been a lot tougher for us. Looking at the teams (in the group B), I think we will have a good fight against Pahang and Kuala Lumpur,” said Shahriman.
If Sabah make it into the quarter-finals, they will take on a team from Group C. If they finish top of the group, they will be pitted against the runners-up of Group C and will take on the Group C champions if they conclude their group stage in second spot.
Shahriman said now they will have to wait for their coach cum manager Gary Phillips to get back from holiday before deciding on their preparations.
“It would be good if we could play some competitive matches prior to the Malaysia Cup,” said Shahriman, adding that it will be up to the coach to set up his own programme.
“Whatever programme he has for the team, we will be supporting him.”
The Malaysia Cup will kick off on September 14, which is after the Hari Raya festival celebration.
The second match has been slated for September 17 and the last first round match is on September 20.
The second round of the group stage is set for October 3, 6, and 9 while the two-leg quarter-finals will be on October 12 and 15. The semi-finals is fixed for October 20 and 23 and the final on October 30.
For the record, last year Sabah, who are the three times Malaysia Cup finalists, failed to make it through into the knockout stage.