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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

INJURY-TIME BLUES


KOTA KINABALU: Rahman Zakaria yesterday put the blame on the man in black for Sabah’s failure to collect all the three points in their clash against the Harimau Muda on Monday.

The Rhinos’ team manager said that if not for the referee’s poor handling of the match, the Rhinos could have returned home with full points.

“There was no need for the referee to extend the match as the fourth match official had signaled three minutes of injury time.

Rahman said the referee should have blown the final whistle when Sabah’s Mohd Munir Amran and Chow Chee Weng were being treated for injuries.

“They were treated for around one minute and by then the match should have ended. Instead, the referee added another four to five minutes after that and that was when the equaliser was scored,” lamented Rahman.

A controversial late goal forced Sabah to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Harimau Muda (National Under-19) in the Premier League match played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The Rhinos were only seconds away from collecting all three points having held onto Bobby Gonzales’ 23rd minute strike, which was his sixth of the season.

But, the Young Tigers had the last laugh when Yusaini Hafiz took advantage of the added time from the original three minutes injury time to score the equaliser.

To add injury to insult, the equaliser came from nowhere as Yusaini somehow found the back of the net from an impossible angle.

“I don’t know why this thing happened to Sabah and it is not the first time. I’m not saying he (referee) is being biased towards the opponents … but I think he just does not know how to deal with his tasks on the field.

Rahman said the referee’s action would only dampen football development in the country.

According to Rahman this is not the first time this season that this has happened.

The late drama also foiled Sabah’s hope of stretching their winning run, having won in their four previous outings prior to Monday’s game against the juniors, whom they beat 2-0 four days earlier.

Nevertheless, Rahman refused to put the blame on his charges saying: “I have no complaints on the performance of our players. They played their best and tried very hard … there were many scoring chances but the players missed.

“It was just not our night I guess and the referee was the main culprit and we are not satisfied,” he said.

Following the draw, Sabah swapped places with current fourth placed Kelantan who thrashed league leaders KL Plus FC 5-2.

Fifth placed Sabah have 24 points, while KL Plus FC remain on top on 31 points despite the defeat.

Johor Pasir Gudang are one point behind the leaders on 30 points thanks to their 3-0 win over PKNS Selangor, with Kuala Muda retaining their third position despite not playing on Monday, followed by Kelantan on 25 points.

Sabah will not play their next match until March 10 where they face Melaka at the Hang Tuah Stadium.

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