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Monday, March 24, 2008

Down but not out!

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah succumbed to their first defeat in nine matches after they were edged 2-1 by Police in the second round of the FA Cup at the MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya on Friday.

The Rhinos, who went into the first leg tie with an unbeaten streak of eight matches in the Premier League, were left with disappointment, and now will need to make amends in the return leg on Wednesday at the Likas Stadium.

Despite taking a first-half one-goal lead through Brazilian Andre Scotti Ossemer, who drew first blood at the half-hour mark, they allowed the homesters to score twice after the break that eventually saw them suffer their first defeat after 810 minutes of action. Rahman Zakaria was not at all impressed with the way the team approached the game, which according to him, they were let down by their own doing. The Rhinos’ team manager said they could have at least snatched a draw if they were more focused on the game.

“To be fair it was a balanced game in the first half, although I think we were the more aggressive side. “But unfortunately, after we scored the goal, we seemed to be carried away by the lead. “This was one of our main weaknesses, where we took it easy after we were leading. “I have no complaints on the other aspects of the game. They played to instructions and so on. They tried, but in this case it was not enough, because after the break, we seemed to lose focus.

“So I really hope the players realise that they must stay focused and give their 110 per cent for the entire 90 minutes and not otherwise. “They have to start realising that nothing is won until the final whistle!

“Last night, if we played as way we did in the first half, it could have been a different result. It was pretty obvious that it was a lacklustre performance after the break. We seemed not to be in the game, and we must rectify this instantly. “Our head coach (Drago Mamic) has done his job, and is doing great at the moment, but there is nothing much he could do, if the players did not put much effort in their game … like what we did in the second half.

“The referee did not help either, but I’m not going to say it aloud here because we are going to lodge a report and let the FA of Malaysia decide. Budi Sudarsono equalised for Police two minutes after the break, while Mohd Afif Amiruddin netted the winner in the 62nd minute. But Rahman said, they may be down, but not out just yet.

“I think we are still pretty much in the race. There are another 90 minutes of play. For the return leg, we just need a simple win,” said Rahman. With the away goal rule taken into account, Sabah will have the simplest of tasks – needing to win 1-0 to cruise into the last eight.
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