Sabah Football Fan blog with news, schedule, result, statistic , records and more.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

AS GOOD AS OVER


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s hopes of claiming one of the two promotion slots into the Super League next season all but vanished after losing narrowly to Kelantan in a Premier League challenge at the Likas Stadium last night.

Ten-man Sabah went down 2-1 with Mouhamadu Moustapha Mane and Mohd Badhri Mohd Radzi netting for the visitors, while second-half substitute Bobby Gonzales scored the consolation goal for the home side. The result has left them with no hope of finishing among the top two teams in the league who will gain automatic promotion to top flight action next season.

Unless the FA of Malaysia changes the format of the M-League, Sabah will remain in the Premier League for a record fourth season. At the moment, to finish their season in third or fourth is already a mammoth task for the Rhinos. With all the top teams winning their respective matches on the night it will be a mountain to climb for them to unseat Kelantan and Johor Pasir Gudang from the third and fourth spots respectively, what more KL Plus and Kuala Muda Naza, who seem to be unshakeable at the top of the standings.

KL Plus, who blanked Melaka 2-0 at the Hang Jebat Stadium, lead the standings on 50 points, while Kuala Muda Naza are closely two points behind, as they too had a victorious night by edging Shahzan Muda 3-2 at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan. The victory allows Kelantan to keep the pace with the top two teams as they sit in third on 44 points, while Johor Pasir Gudang defeated Harimau Muda with an identical scoreline at the Nasional Stadium in Bukit Jalil to stay in fourth on 39 points, followed by Sabah in fifth on 34.

Last night, it was an exciting encounter as both sides went for the offensive right from the start. However, chances of scoring were rare as both sides failed to create anything until the last 15 minutes of the first half with Kelantan looking to have taken the lead in the 32nd minute when Mohd Nizad Ayub was presented with a golden opportunity right in front of the Sabah goalmouth.

But it was fortunate for the homesters as despite having already beaten Sabah’s keeper Irwan Jamil, Mohd Nizad’s close-range header hit the left side of the goalpost and went out of play.

But a minute later in a quick counter attack, Sabah’s Georgian striker Kokhrei Dze Irakli found space inside the Kelantan six-yard box but only to shoot straight at the Kelantan keeper Mohd Shahrizan Ismail.

Then in the 43rd minute, there was no stopping Kelantan from taking the lead when Mouhamadu finished off a Mohd Badhri cross with a grounder from inside the box to eventually end the first half with Kelantan leading 1-0.

After the break, Sabah tried to make a comeback, but just found the Kelantan defence marshaled by Jan Necas a hard nut to crack. And things were getting tougher for them when they were forced to play the last 36 minutes of the game with a man lesser after defender Mohd Munir Amran was given the marching orders after he was alleged to have elbowed Mouhamadu in the 54th minute. Earlier on, Munir had received a yellow card, but the second offence was surely a straight red card even if he fouled Mouhamadu unintentionally or otherwise. In this case, the referee Lee Chong Shen got it right.

However, the man in black on the night made far too many errors as most of his minor decisions were against the home side. In the 76th minute, Kelantan extended their lead through a lighting counter attack. This time after being the provider of the first goal, Mohd Badhri put his name on the scoresheet by scoring the second from close range.

Trailing by two goals down, Sabah’s coach made two substitutions by brining in Bobby Gonzalez and Azrul Ejati Damsah to replace Chow Chee Wing and Mohd Nafuzi Zain respectively.

And Bobby managed to reduce the deficit for Sabah in the 80th minute by connecting fellow substitute Hisamuddin Othman who came in for Julamri Muhamad at the start of the second half, cross.

After the goal, Sabah had one or two chances at the Kelantan goalmouth, but none found the net as the match ended in favour of the visitors.

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