KOTA KINABALU: Sabah coach cum manager Gary Phillips is expected to parade a stronger side in the second match against neighbouring Sarawak at the Likas Stadium today.
After parading what is seen as his second string squad on Saturday that notched a slim 2-1 win, Gary is likely to name more familiar faces for the match that is scheduled to kick off at 4pm.
On Saturday, the likes of skipper Reithuddin Awang Embran, Zainizam Marjan, Mafry Balang, Zuraindey Jumai, Shahrul Azhar Ture, Sumardi Hajalan, Mohd Farid Ideris and even Number One custodian Azizon Abdul Kadir were all missing (from his line-up).
And most of these players are all likely to feature in the battle and would take over from those who played in the first game.
Gary was pleased with the performance of the players that played on Saturday, especially teenager Sabri Sahar.
The youngest player in the squad looked very promising at the middle of the park where he played alongside new signing Mohd Safuan Ibrahim.
If he keeps playing the way he did, or rather if he is consistent, Sabri, 18, will surely give his more experienced team-mates a good competition for a place in the first team.
Gary will definitely give the talented Sabri a chance as the season goes on, as he is surely among the future players of the State squad.
Having said this, it will not be easy for Sabri though, as Gary has quite a number of reliable men at his disposal to orchestrate the team’s engine room.
Zuraindey, Sumardi, and seasoned campaigner Radzi Mohd Hussin, who look much fitter than ever, are the names that would come first into the Gary’s mind when selecting his first team.
Even in attack, Gary would have to tinker on his choices.
Farid Ideris was his chief striker last season, but with the arrival of Stanley Bernard Stephen, Gary would have to see who would be his most ideal striking pair.
He has Zainizam as well as Razlan Oto, and not forgetting teenager Leopold Alfonso Otong, who could unseat any of the foursome, if he is a little more confident in his game.
At the backline, things look rather straight forward with Reithuddin and M. Sivakumar likely to be at the centre, with Rosdin Wasli for cover. He could also utilise Marfy Balang as the centre back.
But today, Gary is likely to name either Azizon or Mohd Salawi Jasad as the team’s ball stopper as new signing Syed Adney Syed Hussien had a full game on Saturday.
While at the back, Gasili Pengalot is set to take over from Jeremy Matthew Danker while Reithuddin is likely to be at the centre with Mafry, unless Gary sticks to Sivakumar while Hariri Mohd Safii, who saw about five minutes of action last Saturday, could be played at the left back.
In midfield, Shahrul is likely to start from the right while Zuraindey and Sumardi at the centre with K. Thanaraj likely to be retained at the left.
Farid and Zainizam are his likely choice upfront, with Leopold being given a chance sometime in the match.