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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Armed Forces gun down Rhinos

Kota Kinabalu: The Armed Forces latched on to a 1-0 lead to hand Sabah their second consecutive defeat in three matches in the Premier League at Likas last night.

Armed Forces substitute, Alphonsus Micheal Angian tapped the ball in from the edge of the box capitalising on the mistake by defenders, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban and Salvester Sindih to give the visitors the 1-0 lead in the 70th minute.

The game match began with both teams trying hard to find the rhythm with the Armed Forces nearly had drawing first blood off a stinging header from Stanley James Batang.

But, Sabah's goalie, G. Jeevanatham was equal to the challenge as he made a superb reflex save to palm the ball for a fruitless corner for the Armed Forces in the 9th minute.

From then on, the Rhinos dominated the game with Nigerian striker, Charles Obi having the opportunity to put Sabah one up but his soft header went straight to the Armed Forces' custodian Abd Rahman Baba in the 21st minute.

Four minutes later, Sabah again had a chance in front of goal through a free kick from P Rajesh in the right flank but three unmarked forwards, Obi, Bobby Gonzales and Rosdin Wasli were unable to connect to the floating ball that went out to touch.

Close to the breather, Sabah coach, Drago Mamic took out the ineffective Bobby for Chow Chee Wing who immediately changed the game's rhythm. In the injury time of the first half, Chow running at the left flank managed to steal the ball from the Armed Forces defender, Mohd Hazrol Abu Hassan.

He ran towards the touchline before unleashing a powerful low cross but no red shirts were there to meet the ball in the box as Obi and Namibian, Paulus Shitaleni Shipanga already too far in front of goal. After the breather, Henry Soimpon replaced veteran midfielder Zainizam Marjan and his captain armband. Zainizam was deputising for skipper, Ronny Harun who was on national duty.

Sabah's best chance in the second half was in the 68th minute through a one-two between Obi and Shipanga in the middle of the Armed Forces penalty box.

Obi released Shipanga running into the box but his powerful grounder to the left of the Armed Forces goal was palmed away by Abd Rahman for a corner. The ensuing corner saw Obi connecting a powerful shot but again the Armed Forces' custodian was there to stop the ball.

In the 70th minute, the Armed Forces floated a ball into Sabah's box but the defence cannot clear the harmless ball allowing Alphonsus to tap in the ball leaving G. Jeevanatham rooted.

Alphonsus who came in as a substitute in the 35th minute was later substituted by Armed Forces coach, Hassan Razali apparently due to injury.

Shortly after the goal, Mamic made a tactical taking out defender, Salvester and putting in striker, Azrul Ejati Damsah.

Tension boiled up in the 79th minute when the players were involved in a scuffle when former Sabah player, Mafry Balang retaliated to the challenge from Shipanga on the top of the penalty box.

As the players from both teams came close to exchanging blows, coach Mamic rushed to the field with unclear intention. He was later accompanied out of the field by the chasing assistant referee.

In the aftermath, referee, Noor Azman Nordin flashed three yellow cards - one to the Armed Forces goalie, one to Shipanga and another to Obi.

The Rhinos tried hard to level the score during the six minutes injury time but the Armed Forces held on to take their second victory in the Premier League.

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