Too early to party!(26/5/2011)

BATTLING IT OUT … Sabah striker Razlan Oto (right), fights for the ball with a Felda United player, while Zainizam Marjan (left) gives chase during the Malaysian Super League match at the Likas Stadium last night..

Justin Ganai refused to take anything for granted after his side nicked a 2-1 victory over KL Felda United FC at the Likas Stadium on Wednesday.

He said there is no room for celebration just yet, not when all their remaining matches are nothing less than ‘win or bust’ cases!

“We must stay focused and try to win our remaining games. To the players, they must keep up the spirit and continue fighting. We have four more games to play, and none of these games will be easy.

“If they have the belief, I don’t see why we cannot get what we want. The determination (to win) was great against Felda, and I am proud of what they have done,” the Sabah head coach said before predicting that the relegation race will go down to the wire and that it will be decided on July 6, which is the final fixture of the Super League.

“We just have to win our games, and forget the rest because only victory will keep us in the Super League and nothing less, and I hope the players realise this,” he added.

Justin also wants his charges to be able to handle the pressure they are in.

“We cannot run away from it. In this game, we must be able to cope with pressure, and if we can do that we’ll do fine,” said Justin who believes that winning their remaining games is something that his team can achieve.

“If we know how to take our chances well, I’m very optimistic of getting the results. When you look at the other teams, they are not too far away. In fact we are of the same level.

Against Felda, Justin said: “It was a game with not so many chances, but I’m delighted to see that we took our chances well. It could have been the same ending for us against Harimau Muda and T-Team, but unfortunately it was not because we blundered far too many scoring opportunities that eventually saw us being punished.

Against Harimau Muda, Sabah lost 0-2 and bowed out 1-3 to T-Team, both home ties.

On Wednesday, they were forced to fight back from a goal down after Md Hasmarul had put Felda into the lead with a 31st minute header.

But Sabah came back strongly in the second half and managed to score the equaliser through Zainizam Marjan’s 58th minute effort before Shahrul Azhar Ture scored the winner four minutes later.

“If we take our chances well, our chances of winning will always be greater. So I really hope they stay on their feet and score more goals.

“We have a tough away game against Harimau Muda A on Saturday and I want them to focus on this game. This will be a tough game, but I still believe we can walk away with full points.

“We have played them recently, and although the result did not favour us, but this time we will be better prepared.

“We will be more solid at the backline for this game because we will have the services of Reithuddin (Ag Emran) and Mafry (Balang). They will make it straight into the first team … no doubt about it.

“Although we are not going for an all-out attacking game, but we are going there to get the maximum points. If not, a draw will still be fine I guess,” added Justin.

Crucial win

Sabah kept their slim hopes of surviving in the Malaysian Super League alive after notching a 2-1 victory over KL Felda United at the Likas Stadium last night.

The three points gained could see them move out from the relegation zone, if other results elsewhere, involving Kuala Lumpur and Pahang favour them.

Sabah fell behind in the 31st minute when Md Hasmarul rose unchallenged inside the box to head home a Chow Chee Weng’s corner past goalkeeper Azizon Abd Kadir, who appeared to be obstructed.

However, referee Abdullah Abu Bakar saw nothing wrong and allowed the goal despite a protest from the home players.

Sabah never really threatened the visiting side for most of the first half, thanks to some neat display from the Felda United to keep them at bay.

The first half ended 0-1.

If Sabah were below par in the opening period, it was a totally different side that played in the second half.

Rozaimi Abd Rahman’s introduction for Radzi Hussin added some firepower into the home midfield and it was not long after that the equaliser came.

Striker Zainizam Marjan again was the hero as he sent a lob shot from just outside the box that beat the outstretched arm of Mohd Hamsani Ahmad in the 58th minute.

Sabah then took the lead in the 62nd minute when Rozaimi’s clever free-kick found Sharul Azhar Ture who let fly a powerful shot to give Sabah the lead.

Felda United attacked in numbers late on but Sabah stood firm to protect the three points, which could be crucial in their relegation battle.

‘Football changes peoples' lives’

FIRST STEP … Lawrence (seated centre), is flanked by Annathurai (left), and Lim taking a group photo together with the 18 participants. Mr Kok from the FA of Malaysia is seated extreme left and Hasbullah at right.

Football is a school of life. It will make you a better person, giving you better knowledge.

And children need to be taught the right way from the start as we nurture them to become better players in the future.

To do that, we need coaches who are equipped with special talent and special knowledge, as it is not easy to handle children.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Festival Project Manager Dr Annathurai Ranganathan said this at the opening of the AFC ‘C’ Certificate of Coaching Course held here yesterday.

The course is being held in conjunction with the AFC Under-13 Football Festival that is set to officially begin here for the sixth year running early next month where nine nations have confirmed their participation.

Annathurai said the festival is not a competition, but more to giving young players the opportunity to taste international action.

The coaching course, he pointed, is one of the seven programmes that have been underlined for the festival.

Besides that, he added is the Preparatory Course for referees, Workshop for all head coaches for the participating countries, Football Medicine Course for physiotherapists for teams, S2S Programme for the participants of the coaching course as well as matches involving the participating teams and skill tests for the players.

Annathurai also revealed that nowadays players are getting better and that coaches need to be better and more knowledgeable than players.

In this modern game, he also stressed on the importance of science and technology.

“We cannot run away from science and technology, it is part and parcel of the game in this era of modern football, and that is why we have decided to include S2S Programme,” he said.

Elite coach Lim Kim Chon, who is attached to AFC and FIFA, and the man that will be conducting the coaching course, said the C Licence is all about basic of football before stressing it is the most important aspect of the game.

Without it, it is almost impossible for anyone to reach the top in the sport.

“This is the most important step in coaching,” he said before adding if any of the participants wishes to become a top coach, they need to sacrifice for the game.

“Football changes peoples’ lives. Football takes you places.”

The regional festival here will be the fifth and last one for this year after the earlier ones – in Doha (Qatar), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Beijing (China) and Yazd (Iran) – were successfully held for AFC member associations from the West, Central, East and South regions respectively.

This time around, with the exception of Australia and Timor Leste, who decided to opt out, and Brunei, still banned, the rest of the seasoned campaigners will be coming, including the host Malaysia.

The other eight nations are Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Sabah FA Deputy President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang was there to grace the opening of the course yesterday accompanied by the FA Executive Secretary Hasbullah Yahya.

Judgement Day

K. THANARAJ … one of the players that have been left out in the cold by former coach Gary Phillips but has started for Sabah in the last two games and did quite well.
Tonight is the night that could decide Sabah’s fate in the Malaysian Super League.

Although there are another five matches left to play, including tonight’s date with KL Felda United FC at the Likas Stadium, but their relegation battle could be over tonight!

This is a fact admitted by its head coach Justin Ganai, who stated that only victory would help keep their slim hope of survival alive.

“This is going to be a decider whether we are staying up or going down,” he said, when contacted yesterday.

Justin is right in saying so as there is nothing more one can expect from the team if they cannot get the better of KL Felda United FC.

Furthermore, their remaining matches are not going to get any easier either. Even a victory will still leave them living on the edge.

To be saved, Sabah need at least 12 points from the possible 15. However, nine points could still be enough! But things are not in Justin’s favour.

He is not having his best squad. He is missing key players, out either due to injury or suspension.

But he is a strong believer that if the players are willing to fight for their lives and stay united they will get through this test.

“If our players stay united and are willing to fight tooth and nail, I’m not too worried about the outcome of the result tomorrow because I believe that we can produce the result we need. But if they don’t, there is not much I can do because they are the ones who will battle it out on the field.

“So it is them who will decide our future. The morale is a little bit low in the squad, but it is something that we can change. It is all about mentality. As long as they have the will, they will get through this,” he added.

He also hinted that major changes to the side that went down 1-3 to T-Team in their previous game are unlikely.

“We have a small squad, and we have limited options, so we just need to pick the players who we think will be the best options to spearhead our charge.

“Although Felda United are only a club side, but they have experienced players under their ranks, but even so, we can match them if we can play the way that we did against T-Team or even Harimau Muda in the opening 45 minutes.

Justin hinted that if there are any changes, it will be in his attack where he is likely to bring in either Mohd Farid Ideris or Razlan Oto for Leopold Alfonso Otong.

“I have not made up my mind yet, but if there are changes, it will be the attack or maybe the midfield. As we all know, we need to score goals, so it gives me the motivation to field more attacking players.

“If I decide to have more attacking players, I might drop Zainizam Marjan to play behind two strikers. That would mean I would have to sacrifice one midfielder, otherwise I will stick to the same side that played against T-Team,” Justin said.

Sabah are currently languishing second from bottom in the standings.

They are currently three points behind the safe zone occupied by Kuala Lumpur and Pahang, who are level on 22 points to Sabah with 19.

Sabah’s remaining matches will be three home ties – against Felda United, Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan – and two away – to Harimau Muda and Perlis.

Too early to party!(26/5/2011) Reviewed by admin Ucop on 12:11 PM Rating: 5

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