Rhinos ready for AFC Cup task despite a lack of training

PETALING JAYA: Despite the lack of friendly matches and just reliance on intense training sessions, the mood around the Sabah camp is good as they look forward to their first AFC Cup Asean zone semi-final.

The task ahead of the Rhinos would not be easy as they will take on Australian club Macarthur, who are currently fourth in the A-League, and have lots of match fitness compared to Sabah, whose domestic season ended in December.

But Portuguese midfielder Telmo Castanheira believes his side are ready for the task ahead as the team, now galvanised by the return of internationals like striker Darren Lok, midfielder Stuart Wilkin, leftback Daniel Ting, centreback Dominic Tan and Indonesian winger Saddil Ramdani.

He said the team are doing extra work during training to ensure they are fit as the Australian club are known for their hard-working ethic and strong physical attributes.

“The team are working hard to be as fit as possible, the mood and morale in this team are always good and everyone is focused and confident to play a good game against a strong opponent,” said the 31-year-old playmaker known for his box-to-box abilities.

“It will be a difficult game against a strong opponent, they are already competing and we are just coming from pre-season.

“They are playing at home, all these factors matter of course, but we know our strengths also and we will fight together to get a positive result.”

Castanheira joined the club last year from Iceland club IBV, playing 23 games in all competitions, scoring five goals and four assists.

In the AFC Cup, he played three matches, scoring a goal.

“My first season was good, the team did a fantastic season, and individually the adaptation was great as I helped the team with goals, assists and good performances so I’m happy with it.

“In my second season, the mentality is the same, I will do everything to help Sabah reach their goals, and if possible with goals and assists, of course.”

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