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Friday, July 11, 2008

RHINOS WANT REMATCH


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will lodge an official protest and would insist on a rematch against Kuala Lumpur in the Malaysia Cup Group B challenge.

Rahman Zakaria said they will write to the FA of Malaysia (FAM) pertaining to the matter sooner rather than later.

The Rhinos’ team manager who was clearly upset, furious and disappointed with the whole incident, blamed the match official – Abu Bakar Mohd’s – failure in handling the tie professionally for the fracas – that was won 2-1 by the visiting Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

“So many unusual incidents took place on the field and we have strong grounds to make an appeal (for a rematch),” said Rahman.

“It’s not that we cannot accept defeat, but this is not the way,” he added.

The match turned ugly in the 75th minute when Sabah’s striker David Njoku was involved in a commotion with the Kuala Lumpur players, and the lanky Nigerian was alleged to have been slapped by a Kuala Lumpur player.

More and more players from both sides were getting involved and things got worse minutes later.

Sabah’s Salvester Sindeh was the first to have been shown the red card before Kuala Lumpur’s goalkeeper Mohd Shafiz faced a similiar fate seconds later.

The match official’s failure to handle the match professionally could have turned the night into a free-for-all.

Fortunately, the fight only involved Salvester and Kuala Lumpur’s Hasnol Hamzah who should have been sent off as well, but the latter was left unpunished.

To make it worse for Abu Bakar, he even allowed Kuala Lumpur to play with 11 men despite already sending off Mohd Shahfiz.

“We admit we were trailing 2-1 due to the fault of our players until the 73rd minute, but after that nothing went right on the part of the match official,” said Rahman.

“He just failed to control the emotions of the players and that prompted the whole incident to take place.

The referee only realised his blunder after about 10 minutes after being informed by the fourth official following a protest by Sabah.

However, it was too late as the match had entered into five minutes of injury time.

Mohd Shuhaimi (No 17) was supposed to be replaced by Saiful, but when the match resumed he was still seen on the field.

Rahman said that to give five minutes of additional time was also unfair as the match was stopped for more than 10 minutes.

“I hope the FAM will seriously look into our request or complaint,” he said.

On Mohd Salawi Jasad’s blunder that gifted Kuala Lumpur an equaliser, Rahman said this will be his (Mohd Salawi) nightmare and hopes it will be a lesson for the youngster.

Sabah took the lead in the 57th minute through Zainizam Marjan’s header off a cross by Salvester Sindeh only for Yong Kuong Yong to equalise for Kuala Lumpur a minute later after capitalising on a blunder by Mohd Salawi.

Yong then put Kuala Lumpur into the lead in the 73rd minute after slotting home from close range after defeating Irwan Jamil.

And Rahman refused to put the blamed solely on Mohd Salawi, adding that the whole squad should share the blame.

Sabah could have sealed the game in the first half, but were denied by poor finishing.

With the defeat, if it stays, Sabah are walking on a tightrope in their quest for a place in the quarter-finals. Sabah’s next game is an away date with Johor FC on June 12.

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