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 Sports

Rawilson proud to get call-up

15th March, 2018

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Rhinos’ captain Rawilson Batuil received his first call-up for the national senior side following his impressive show in the opening quarter of the Malaysian League 2018.

The Kota Marudu-born tough tackling defender was among the 15 new faces that have been roped by Harimau Malaya head coach Tan Cheng Hoe, who named a provisional squad of 29 players for the national centralised training, on Tuesday.

They are to report to national camp at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Sunday (March 18).

The 24-year-old Rawilson, or Jipun, as he is fondly known among his team-mates and friends, has vowed to make the final squad, where the national side will take on Mongolia in an international ‘A’ friendly match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on March 22.

The match is part of the team’s preparations for the last game in the 2019 Asian Cup Group B qualifiers against Lebanon in Beirut on March 27.

Rawilson said he will fight for his place, not only in the team but also in Tan’s first-eleven squad.

“It is an honour to receive my first national team call-up but I don’t want my involvement to be restricted as one of the players attending the centralised training camp.

“I want to show that I’m capable and can be depended upon when donning national colours. It will not be easy because there are so many players, which include big names in the country’s football scene as well as naturalised footballers. But this is a challenge for me, and I’m ready for it.”

Meanwhile, Sabah Rhinos head coach Jelius Ating urged his captain to grab the opportunity to claim a regular place with the national senior team.

Jelius said the national team call-up would be the start of a new chapter in Rawilson’s career that could help propel him to a new level.

“He was selected from among the many (central defenders) in the Malaysian League, and based on merit. I certainly hope he would show his true ability to fight for a place in the main squad,” said Jelius.

For the record, Ronny Harun was the last Sabah-born defender to play for the national team at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 and his good form saw him feature in the AFF Best XI announced at the 2017 AFF Football Awards.

The good news for Sabah football doesn’t end there as the young Evan Wensley Wenceslaus has been called up into the national Under-21 squad.

The defender, who signed his first professional contract early this year, has been crucial to the Junior Rhinos’ good start to the President’s Cup campaign where they are top of Group A with four wins and a defeat.

“He would find it tough to get some minutes with the senior team and that is why he is with the junior squad along with four other players.

“It is good for him to get match fitness and to improve while at the same time his presence too will benefit the Junior Rhinos.

“Now that he has been picked for the national Under-21, it is a great opportunity for him to further develop his football career,” said Jelius.

   
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