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 Sports

Remote chance for Junior Rhinos

7th August, 2018

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: Junior Rhinos’ hope of progressing through into the semi-finals took a hard knock after being edged 2-1 by Felda United FC in the first leg of the President’s Cup quarter-finals at the Likas Stadium yesterday.

With the defeat, they are now forced to do it the hard way and must secure a clean 2-0 win over the same opponent when they meet in the return leg tie at the UPM Stadium in Serdang, Selangor on Friday (August 10).

Team manager Mohd Yassin Aman refused to throw in the towel just yet, insisting that there are another 90 minutes to play.

“We have to admit the fact that we have to do it the hard way and away from home. As we can see today (yesterday), they are a good side and very difficult to beat. Even during the group stage, they only conceded eight goals, which showed that they have a solid defence.

“However, we will not give up, and will fight till the very end and hope that things will go our way in the return leg tie,” a disappointed Yassin said when met after the match.

“It was just unfortunate that we didn’t have our full squad today due to suspension and injury while two are with the senior side, which are also facing a similar problem as us.

“Today, six of our regulars were missing. Our captain Zaki (Muhammad Zaki Sapri) and midfielder Eddey (Ladius) are facing a long lay off due to injuries. Zaki is expected to be out at least two months while Eddey four weeks.

“We were also forced to withdraw Kelvin (defender – Pengiran) after aggravating an injury during training while Mohd Aidil (Safee) is suspended. Both Evan (Wensley Wenceslaus) and Hamran (Peter) are with the senior side.

“If we can have all these players, it could have been a different story, but I hope, at least two of these players will be part of the travelling team to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday,” said Yassin, adding that Aidil will return from suspension while Kelvin should be fit for the clash as well.

“If we can get Hamran and Evan, it will be better,” he added.

Yesterday, the equally contested tie saw the opening half ending in a stalemate 0-0 draw with both sides having minor forays into either goalmouth.

Junior Rhinos best chance of the first half came in the 40-minute through midfielder Adi Ali’s effort, who blasted a grounder from just inside the box that went just wide.

Seven minutes into the second half, Junior Rhinos finally found the much-needed goal when Suhaizan Nazmie Bin Etin @ Abdullah’s well-placed header from an acute angle went straight into the back of the Felda United FC’s net after connecting a looping cross from flanker Ariusdius Jais.

The goal seemed to spur on an unperturbed Felda side to commit players high up the pitch when on the attack and one such move led to the equalising goal in the 63rd minute.

After well-worked moves, Alif was unmarked just outside the box when he received the ball before shooting low past a crowded penalty area and into the bottom right corner of the net.

Then in the 77th minute, Felda took the lead, a courtesy of an own goal by Junior Rhinos defender Mohd Azmizan Ruslih.

Junior Rhinos tried hard to make a comeback, but Felda held firm to their slender led till finish.

   
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