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 Sports

Tambadau on the brink of Premier League glory

25th June, 2019

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysia Premier League title countdown has well and truly begun.

With each passing game, another obstacle can be ticked off the list and as long as Sabah can match the results of their rivals each week then their dream of winning their first title in 23 years gets a little bit closer to becoming a reality.

Tambadau as they prefer to be called now currently lead by a single point from second-placed Johor Darul Ta’zim II (JDT II) with UiTM FC sitting three points behind in third.

Further down are Terengganu FC II (fourth), Negeri Sembilan (fifth) and Penang (sixth) – are eight, nine and 11 points away from the leaders.

With Tambadau having a game in hand over their fellow contenders the odds are stacked further in their favour. There are 15 points to play for over their five remaining fixtures, with JDT II and UiTM FC only competing for an extra 12.

For Tambadau, 12 points will guarantee them the title, equating to five wins. It means they could even afford to lose one game between now and the end of the season, and still end up at the summit of the Premier League. The in-form Tambadau will continue their challenge by taking on lowly Sarawak in a Borneo Derby clash at Likas Stadium tomorrow (Wednesday).

Jelius Ating’s side will surely be heading into the 8.15pm tie brimming with confidence following their fine form where they have stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches.

But Jelius is not about to be flattered by their fine momentum, insisting that at this stage of the league, there is no room for the slightest error if they are to end their season with the Premier League crown.

He said it would be their greatest mistake to underestimate their opponents, who he predicted will not make it easy for them.

“Even though they are at the bottom of the table at the moment but we will pay a heavy price if we tend to take them lightly.

“We have to treat Sarawak like any other team which means we must work hard and go for nothing else but victory,” the Tambadau head coach said when contacted yesterday.

He said winning the Borneo Derby clash would help them strengthen their position at the summit of the league “We must stay focused and try to get all the three points,” he said.

“At the same time, it is also important for the players to improve their performances because we have been playing below par in our last two matches even though we won both the matches,” he added.

Jelius also reminded his team not to be in a comfort zone mode and said that the hard work must continue.

“We must remain focused because we have won nothing yet. We have almost achieved our target of gaining Super League promotion … and we are close to achieving it, but we are still not there yet.

“We are getting closer (achieving their promotion target) and now I think we also need to set our sights on winning the Premier League. It will be great if we can achieve both so our focus is also on the title (Premier League).

“We are in a good position to do it but until we achieve it, we must continue to work hard,” he said. He also hinted that he will pick the best players to spearhead their challenge in the remainder of their challenge, including against Sarawak.

Jelius said he will not hesitate to drop underperforming players, including import players, to the bench.

“We will see them in training today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today), and I cannot deny that the presence of Aguinaldo (Mendes Veiga) did not help the team and if we look at our last fixture when we brought in Rahman (Shah Marajeh) … our attack looked much better,” said Jelius.

“So we will consider all aspects when we name our first team and only players that put up a good show deserve to be in the team. It doesn’t mean that if he is an import player, he must be in the first team,” said Jelius.

   
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