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 Sports

Promotion hopes take hard knock

26th May, 2018

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: The familiar story of squandered opportunities and ultimately insufficient quality may see the Sabah Rhinos stranded in the Premier League for a record seventh consecutive season.

The narrow 1-0 defeat to runaway leaders Felda United FC at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka, Pahang on Thursday, left the team with a Herculean task in making a top-two finish, which would earn them automatic Super League promotion next season.

Unfortunately, the team are now trailing by 17 points from the table-toppers, who lead the pack on 32 points.

Sabah Rhinos remain in fifth on 15 points and are currently six points behind second-place Felcra FC, who have a game in hand while third and fourth-placed MISC-MIFA and Police are two points ahead of Sabah Rhinos.

Sixth and seventh-placed Sarawak and UiTM FC are also on 15 points, but lose out to Sabah Rhinos on inferior goal difference.

The state side is now without a win in six matches. Their last victory was on April 10 against UiTM FC where they won 3-1 in a home tie.

And with only eight matches left to play, there is certainly no room for errors for Jelius Ating and his boys if they are to keep their promotion hope alive.

Against Felda, Jelius blamed their poor finishing for not settling for at least a draw.

He claimed they created more than enough chances to even win the tie despite the fact that they are an under-strength side for not being able to fill in the vacuum left by Lee Gil Hoon and Heo Jaenyeong, who are no longer with the team.

The Sabah Rhinos’ head coach said they created numerous goal-scoring opportunities but just failed to finish them off.

“It was a difficult and tough game to play, especially when you only have two foreign players at your disposal. But that is not our main problem (Thursday night). When you look at the game, we created numerous opportunities but failed to translate them into goals.

“In the end, the other team (Felda United) took their advantage well and scored from their only chance in the game. So, for me this is disappointing because we want the team to compete (for promotion). We will try to bounce back from this defeat,” said Jelius.

Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor turned hero for his side with his first-half stoppage time winner.

Meanwhile, Jelius hopes they will be able to at least sign one import player before their next game, which is against UKM FC on June 2, at the Likas Stadium.

   
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