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Paunovic eyes winning return

7th June, 2018


KOTA KINABALU: Rodoljub Paunovic has vowed to help his Sabah Rhinos side to end their barren run when they take on UiTM FC in a Premier League tie that kicks off at 10pm at UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam tonight.

The stateside is without a win in their last seven matches, and Paunovic, who will be making his second spell with the team after penning a one-year deal with the Sabah FA during the recent transfer window, could not wait to be reunited with his former team-mates.

Ironically, it was against UiTM FC that Sabah Rhinos won their last match on April 10 in a home tie that ended 3-1. After the win, Sabah Rhinos ended their next seven matches in either draws or defeats.

“I’ve been following the Sabah team, and I saw the results … from the beginning, it was a great start, but towards the end of the first round, it was not so good, but I hope from tomorrow (tonight) we will put our challenge back on the right track,” said the Serbian striker, who scored six goals during his short spell with the team last season.

“UiTM FC are a strong team, but I believe we are stronger, and last year when we played against them, I scored my first goal for Sabah in the Premier League. I hope we will return home with three points, and it doesn’t matter who will score, but what is more important is we get all the three points,” the 32-year-old added.

Paunovic said he was really happy to be back to don Sabah colours once again, and pledged to give his best for the team while thanking head coach Jelius Ating and team manager Juil Nuatim for giving him a second opportunity to play for Sabah.

“I’ll work hard for the team, and I cannot wait to play alongside the likes of Azzizan (Nordin), Rawilson (Batuil) and the rest,” he said.

But tonight, Paunovic will not see Azzizan in action, as the latter was not part of the travelling team to Shah Alam. He will miss the tie due to suspension after collecting his third yellow card in the 1-3 defeat to UKM FC in their last home tie.

Jenius Karib and Justin Samaan will also miss the tie due to injury, but Sabri Sahar, who missed the UKM FC clash due to a back pain, will return to the team.

Sabah’s squad for the UiTM FC clash are Maxsius Musa, Randy Baruh, Robson Rendy Rining, Rahman Shah Marajeh, Dendy Lowa, Evan Wensley Wenceslaus, Ricco Nigel Milus, Ummareng Bacok, Hamran Peter, Rawilson, Sabri, Mafry Balang, Melky Balang, Francis Kasonde, Pito Ramos, Keisuke Ogawa and Paunovic.

Sabah Rhinos will go into the tie occupying the fifth spot in the 11-team standings on 15 points from three wins, six draws and four defeats.

UiTM FC are also on 15 points, but lose out on goal difference. They are eighth behind UKM FC and Sarawak, who also have 15 points in their bags.

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