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Monday, January 12, 2009

Sabah march into final

KOTA KINABALU: The State futsal squad marched into the final round of the National Felda Futsal Championship 2008/09 to be held in Perak from January 16-18.

They claimed their ticket after emerging as winners of Group F comprising Kedah, Terengganu and MBJB of Johor.

Sabah topped the group with 12 points, one ahead of second-placed Kedah, while Terengganu finished on eight points. MBJB languished at the bottom of the four-team standings on two points.

The feat saw them claim the RM10,000 prize money, but a bigger reward awaits them in the final round, as the champions will collect a handsome RM40,000!

Sabah will surely go into the final round full of confidence after concluding the group stage in style.

They remained unbeaten throughout the two-leg group stage, registering three wins and three draws.

Yesterday, they toppled Kedah from the top spot, after ending their second round campaign with two wins and a draw. In the first round, they recorded one win and two draws.

It was Kedah, who went into the second round as firm favourites to make it into the final having ended their first round campaign two points ahead of Sabah after registering two wins and one draw to lead Sabah by two points.

But Sabah managed to turn the tables on Kedah with a little help from Terengganu, who inflicted Kedah with their first defeat in the tournament.

Following the defeat, Kedah went into the clash against Sabah needing nothing less than a win, while on the other hand, Sabah just need a draw to enable them to emerge as the group winners.

And Sabah did their homework as they managed to hold Kedah to a four-all draw in their final fixture (against Kedah) yesterday.

In fact Sabah were very much in command as Faisal Ismail helped them to take the lead before Mohd Marwansitah Ahmad made it 2-0. But Kedah managed to level the scoreline to two-all before the half time break.

Then Sabah were made to work extra hard after Kedah took the lead (3-2) early in the second half.

But Sabah were back in the game when Mohd Marwansitah scored his second to level the scoreline before Safar Mohammad put Sabah into the lead again.

In injury time, Kedah scored their fourth, but found out that it was a little too late for them to win the battle.

Earlier on, Sabah defeated Terengganu 5-3 before scoring a convincing 5-2 victory over MBJB.

A delighted team manager Alijus Sipil congratulated his charges for a job well done, but was quick to remind them to stay focused as a bigger task awaits them in Perak.

“The boys did well throughout the second round and I’m proud of them. Discipline wise … on and off the field, they were good, and I have no complaints.

“They showed great team spirit and won their battles through team effort, which is very good for the team.

“But they must realise that the mission is not accomplished yet. We have another one big assignment ahead of us and that is to try to win the championship.

“So I want the players to stay focused, and not to be carried away with our achievement thus far,” Alijus added.

Meanwhile, the State women’s squad failed to make it through after failing to emerge as group winners.

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