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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sabah stun UPB-MyTEAM

Kota Kinabalu: Reinvigorated Sabah on Friday night humbled high-riding UPB-MyTEAM 3-1 to renew their hopes in the Premier League challenge at the Likas Stadium.

Nigerian import Charles Obi proved his mettle by scoring twice while the other goal was scored by peninsula import Chow Chee Wing.

MyTEAM were given a consolation with an own goal from Nigerian defender Prince Eboagwu Etuew.

Rhinos left winger Chee Wing tested the visitors' goalkeeper three minutes into the game with a low grounder but goalie Faizal Rashid parried it away.

Not to be outdone, Sabah's newly signed foreign import Ijebor Prince Guy Ative unleashed a fierce shot that was successfully palmed away by the in-form Faizal.

Ative made another attempt in the ninth minute but his shot went wide.

The visitors nearly went ahead less than a minute later when Croatian striker Dejan Miljanic rose high to head Mohd Harris Safwan's cross but saw his header go narrowly wide.

Sabah dominated the game in the ensuing minutes but was only able to make a stab at goal with veteran midfielder Henry Saimpon's dipping first timer forcing MyTEAM number one keeper Faizal having to stretch backwards to tip the ball over the bar.

Obi had a chance just inches away from the goalmouth but he skied his shot.

Clubside right winger Shakir Shaari's lame attempt in the 41st minute hardly made an impact.

Sabah finally broke the deadlock with a curling freekick from Chee Wing during first half injury time to the delight of the 1,000 odd die-hard fans.

Five minutes after the breather, Obi coolly slotted the ball past custodian Faizal after receiving a through ball from fellow Nigerian Ative for Sabah's second goal.

With two goals in the bag, Croatian-coached MyTEAM seemed more desperate to close the widening gap. Then an own goal by defender Etuew in the 54th minute gave them a flicker of hope of salvaging something from the match.

Etuew had intended to clear the ball after Sabah custodian Irwan Jamil's fine save off MyTEAM striker Mohd Harris Safwan's low shot slipped.

Looking confused, the Nigerian import kicked the ball into his own net which left the players and fans groaning after enjoying a two-goal margin.

A minute later and apparently still reeling from the blunder, Etuew almost equalised for MyTEAM when he deflected a cross from an opponent but thankfully it hit the upright for a fruitless corner.

Croatian coach Drago Mamic took hardworking midfielder Henry Saimpon out in the 63rd minute for a pair of fresh legs in Hardy Charles Parsi to strengthen the central midfield.

In the 73rd minute, a MyTEAM midfielder attempted a crack at Sabah's goal from long range but keeper Irwan was equal to the task.

Referee Ravichandran Chappanimutu did not hesitate to flash a yellow card to MyTEAM winger Shakir Shaari for a harsh tackle on Rajes Perumal.

With 12 minutes remaining, Mamic decided to replace Chee Wing with Mohd Radzi Hussin while MyTEAM coach Bojan Hodak took out Shakir for Razlan Oto.

With the minutes ticking down the clearly distraught MyTEAM again made a desperate long-range shot from Mohd Harris but the ball was cleared away harmlessly.

Sabah made another substitution in the 85th minute with veteran Burhan Ajui replacing Rajes.

There was hardly any dangerous attacking move from the visitors with the Rhinos defence being well marshalled by national defender Ronny Harun together with S. Sunder Selver Raju, Rosdin Wasli and Obi.

Three minutes before full time, Obi struck the winning goal with a fine header off a cross from teammate Ative.

Although the win did little to dent MyTEAM's campaign in the Premier League, Sabah definitely deserved the long awaited win over them.

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