PASIR GUDANG: Johor FC will make three significant changes to the line-up in their bid to keep their unbeaten home record intact and more importantly collect full points against Sabah in tonight's Premier I match at the Pasir Gudang Football Stadium.
Former international Azmi Mohamed, who will be starting only his second game this season, will come in for the suspended Australian hitman Jon Angelucci.
Angelucci, who is the Premier I top scorer with eight goals, picked up his third booking in Kuantan in his team's 1-4 defeat to Pahang.
Defender Hamzani Omar, who became the first player from a club team to earn a national call-up three years ago, will be seeing action for the first time this season.
Hamzani, who has been sidelined with a slipped disc he picked up while playing against Singapore club Balestier Khalsa in a pre-season friendly will take over from regular Mohd Khaidir Mohd Dom.
Skipper Zami Mohd Noor, will again be a non-starter after taking leave to be with his baby who is sick in Seremban. The ex-national skipper has not trained since last Sunday.
Johor FC coaching and technical director Ronald Smith will start with Hairy Azly Mahamad in the engine.
“Hamzani will give more ‘height'’ at the back. He is also sharp and the extra in the air from him will come in handy,” said Smith.
The inclusion of Hairy in Johor FC’s first team will also enable regulars like Rizal Sukiman to recover from the hard knocks he has taken in the last few matches.
“We have to play for 90 minutes ... not just one half. We were disappointing in Kuantan and I don't want the same to happen tomorrow (tonight).”
Sabah are also having their fair share of ups and downs this season but their whopping 5-0 win over Terengganu on Tuesday at home will certainly be a booster for them.
The Rhinos, however, arrived in Pasir Gudang without their Liberian striker Josiah Seton.
Coach Justin Ganai said Seton has been left behind because he has not recovered from an injury on his right knee sustained on the eve of the home match against defending league champions Perak last Saturday. Perak won 1-0. He also missed the match against Terengganu.
Seton, who scored 24 goals for Sabah last season, has netted only two so far this year and has come in for criticism of his poor strike rate this year.
Australian midfielder Robert Gaspar, who made his M-League debut against Perak, has given Sabah hope for a win tonight the boost. He scored a brace against Terengganu.
National striker Zainizam Marjan is also on form after his hattrick in the same match.
“I hope we can display the same type of form we showed against Terengganu and win our first away match,” said Justin, who has threatened to quit the team if the Rhinos did not beat Terengganu.
Sabah, have yet to score their first away win this season. They drew 3-3 with Sarawak, 0-0 with Perlis and Pahang and lost 0-1 to Malacca Telekom in away matches in the league.