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Sunday, September 02, 2007

SABAH-PERAK DRAW


TAWAU: The atmosphere was electrifying, the fans were magnificent, but Sabah still failed to gain any advantage as they were held to a one-all draw by visiting Perak in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-finals at the Tawau Sports Complex field last night.

It was not the result Sabah wanted, but it was certainly better than losing the game.

Both teams will meet again in the return leg on Tuesday at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh to decide who deserves to earn a place in the final that has been slated for September 8.

Now Perak are certainly the hot favourites. Not only will they be holding the home-ground advantage, but the goal they scored could prove to be crucial especially if we take the away goals rule into account.

But Rahman Zakaria said that they are not about to surrender just yet.

“It is still a 50-50 contest,” the Rhinos’ team manager said when met after the match.

“Anything can still happen. This is still a possible mission. And we are not going to give up so easily, but will fight it out until the final whistle,” he added.

The more than 13,000 fans who cheered the Rhinos from the start were stunned when former international Mohd Khalid Jamlus struck the opener for the visitors with an overhead kick during a goalmouth melee in the 21st minute of the game.

But Sabah were not to be denied an equaliser after Charles Obi coolly connected with Chow Chee Wing’s corner kick one minute before the break.

It was a fair result for both sides, but one could say that it was second class refereeing by the man in black in Mohd Yussof Mat Karim.

In fact the match could have gone either way with both sides having enough chances to win the game, but poor finishing or fine goalkeeping by both custodians left the match in a draw.

Sabah’s Felisberto De Oliveira Jr missed a sitter in the closing minutes of the game, shooting wide.

“The fans were marvellous and on behalf of the team, I would like to say a big thank you to them all,” said Rahman.

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