KOTA KINABALU: A depleted Sabah side will have to dig deep into their reserves as they search for the much-needed points when they take on Terengganu in a Super League tie at the Likas Stadium tonight.
Sabah team manager and head coach, Gary Phillips will have few to choose from among his chargers as five of his regulars will be ruled out for the clash either due to injury or suspension.
Defenders, Rosdin Wasli and Hariri Mohd Safii are out serving suspensions, while midfielder, Sharul Azhar Ture and striker Razlan Oto are nursing hamstring injuries, and are doubtful starters.
Radzi Mohd Hussin will also be absent from his usual duty in midfield, due to an ankle injury.
Although others are available and up for the task, Gary is still uncertain as to who among his chargers can motivate the squad for the win.
What he really needs now is someone who can score. So far none of his forward players have shown the capabilities he expects.
“We have a couple of players on our injury list so there will be a fair chance for some changes.
“What we need to do is take some chances and someone has to put his hand up to become the hero,” said Gary, when contacted, yesterday.
Winning hasn’t been much on Sabah’s record this season. They made a graceful return to the Super League, no doubt, but thus far, Sabah have yet to prove that they truly belong among the country’s top teams.
And with another tough assignment to deal with tonight, some may predict another disappointing outcome, as it has been for most of the season.
But Gary welcomes the challenge and is unwilling to right off Sabah’s hopes and chances for victory.
He believes there is still a strong spirit in the team to try and live out the rest of the season and survive a looming relegation battle.
“Terengganu are tough opponents … they are right up there with Selangor. We must play to our strengths and minimise mistakes. Most importantly we must take some chances.
“Like the fans, we too have been frustrated about not being able to score. We certainly have had the opportunities and I’m sure we will have some in tomorrow’s game,” he said.
Gary, however, will have to pray from the stands that the team does well. There is plenty of anticipation from the fans, who have been patient with the team and are still turning up to show their support.
They want to see Sabah win and have so far accepted the team’s losses patiently and forgivingly.
Sabah supporters will have plenty of opportunities to catch a winning performance as the team will be playing five home games in a row just as soon as they return from their travels against Johor and Kedah.
For the record, Sabah are currently one spot off the bottom of the 14-team standings. They have 11 points from 13 matches.