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Saturday, April 07, 2007

RHINOS KNOCK DOWN COPS


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah gained sweet revenge over Police as they kick started their Premier League second round campaign with a convincing 3-1 victory last night.

Striker-in-chief Charles Obi was again the toast of the team as he netted twice after second-half substitute Salvester Sindeh had put Sabah on level terms following a B. Rajanikadhn opener.

It was again a night to cheer at the Likas Stadium as the Rhinos put up yet another solid and spirited performance that eventually helped them avenge their 1-2 defeat to the same side in a Malaysia Cup challenge last month.

And the well-deserved victory would surely instill greater spirit among the Rhinos as after last night’s victory the Rhinos defeated the top two sides in the league. Late last month, they scored a victory over table-toppers UPB-MyTEAM with a similar scoreline and followed it with this sweet victory over second-placed Police. It was not much action in the first half as both sides took some time to settle down with Police having the first chance at Sabah’s goalmouth when P.Sivanathan unleashed a pile-driver shot from about 35 metres, but Sabah’s young custodian Irwan Jamil managed to palm the ball away for a corner. Sabah’s first chance in the half only came in the 20th minute when Radzi Hussin shot wide after receiving a back-pass from Obi. But it could have been 1-0 for Sabah in the 34th minute when Chow Chee Wing was presented with a sitter.

Obi managed to feed the unmarked Chow, but unfortunately his attempt from five yards out went wide. Two minutes later, this time it was P. Rajes who squandered another golden opportunity when his point-blank header sailed above the crossbar. Late in the first half, Police’s Hillary Echesa saw his attempt from outside the Sabah goalmouth go wide. Both teams enjoyed a longer half-time break, as there was a blackout at the Likas Stadium. It was about a 15-minute delay before the game resumed.

And it was Police who stunned the homesters when B. Rajanikadhn curled his 58th minute free-that hit the back of the Sabah net. Trailing by a goal, Sabah coach Drago Mamic took a gamble by bringing in his third striker in Salvester Sindeh.

And it proved to work well for the Rhinos as Salvester cancelled off B. Rajanikadhn’s opener with a low drive after receiving a pass from Obi in the 69th minute, six minutes after replacing Zulamri Muhammad.

Five minutes later, Obi finally sent the about 4,000 home fans into frenzy when he slotted home Sabah’s second. It started from a lobbed ball from Chow from the centre of the half. The Rhinos’ leading scorer chested the ball before unleashing a low drive into the back of the Police net. In the 80th minute, B. Rajanikadhn could have put Police on level terms when they earned a free-kick from the same place as they did when he put his side into the lead.

But this time luck seemed to shy away from him as his attempt hit the woodwork. In the 85th minute, Obi sealed the Rhinos’ victory with a fine finish after receiving a long pass from Rajes. From then on it was all Sabah until the final whistle.

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