Saturday August 30, 2003
Sarpong back to keep ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Chepita under wraps
PENANG: The Sarawak fans call Perlis striker Phillimon Chepita the “Crocodile Hunter” and for a good reason too.
The Zambian has a knack of scoring goals regularly against the Crocs. On Wednesday, he again broke the Sarawak fans' hearts with an injury time equaliser in the 2-2 draw.
It was the Premier I Golden Boot winner’s sixth strike in five meetings against Sarawak this season.
And Sarawak coach Jalil Ramli has vowed to keep Chepita quiet when the two teams meet in the return match in Kangar tonight.
Jalil’s cause has been boosted with the return of hard-tackling Ghanaian defender Emmanuel Sarpong from a thigh injury.
“Sarpong has recovered fully and his return gives me an extra option in defence. Although Chepita has been scoring regularly against us, including four goals in a league match in Kuching, he can be contained.
“By tightening the defence, we believe we can curb the danger posed by Chepita and his teammates,” said Jalil yesterday.
In Sarpong's absence, Mohd Firdaus Ishak did a good job in marking Chepita on Wednesday. However, a lapse in concentration in the dying moments allowed the “Crocodile Hunter” to pounce and snatch a point for the Northern Lions.
“It was a huge disappointment to concede victory that way. The players gave away possession too easily in the final moments of the game and we paid dearly for it.
“But I have no complaints on the overall performance of the players as we did well to take the fight to Perlis,” said Jalil.
Perlis can be forgiven for feeling lucky at the moment, having been saved by a late goal for the second successive match.
After snatching a 2-1 victory with three minutes remaining against Negri Sembilan last week, Chepita's bicycle-kick goal against Sarawak was instrumental in helping Perlis remain on top of Group B.
And coach Norizan Bakar is hoping their luck will hold in their remaining group matches as well.
“Sometimes you can do all the work but not get the results when luck is not on your side. Fortunately, lady luck has been smiling on us in the Malaysia Cup and I hope it will hold for the coming matches,” said Norizan.
But the former national assistant coach knows that having luck does not guarantee success.
“Credit should be given to the players as they did not throw in the towel after going two goals down to Sarawak in the first half. Based on Wednesday’s performance, I can look forward to the match in Kangar with optimism.”
Perlis, however, will face Sarawak at home without hardworking midfielder Rosle Md Derus. Rosle was stretchered out in the first half with a leg injury in Kuching. He is also likely to miss next Thursday’s away game against Malacca Telekom.