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Monday, January 16, 2012

Brilliant Michael silences critics

New Sabah Times
PERFECT PARTNER … Bobby Gonzales (red) celebrates with Michael (left) after scoring Sabah’s second as (from left) Shahrudin, Brendan and Mafry join in the celebration.
KOTA KINABALU: Striker Michael William Baird is one step ahead of his critics after guiding Sabah to their first win of the season by edging Sarawak 2-1 in a Super League tie at the Likas Stadium on Saturday.

Many question the Aussie’s ability in leading the Sabah attack, but on Saturday, he put all matters to rest, albeit for now.

He was certainly man of the match after putting up a brilliant show, not only attacking but also defending, where at times he was seen all over the pitch.

But for Michael, this is the burden that he has to bear as the season has just kicked off.
Nevertheless, he deserves all the credits as he scored the opener before setting up the second for strike-partner Bobby Gonzales for Sabah’s second.

If he can play consistently like he did on Saturday, Michael can be the fans’ favourite.
He was unfortunate not to score a second as he had a couple of chances in his hands or rather his feet with the best one when he found space inside the Sarawak penalty box but only to see his attempt go straight to the keeper’s arms.

Team manager Haji Shahriman Abdullah was full of praise not only for Michael, but the whole team for the efforts they gave in the Borneo Derby.

“I’m delighted and pretty excited too. It was our first home game and we won it. This was indeed a very important win,” Shahriman said when met after the match.

“I would like to congratulate the team. And I’m proud of Justin (Ganai – Sabah head coach) for the way we play. We played one touch football and at times too. But this is just the start, and it can be perfected.
Shahriman said the team put up a better show on Saturday than in the opening 2-0 defeat to KL Felda United FC, where they played more long balls.

“Tonight (Saturday) we looked more solid,” he added.
He was also glad to see Sabah two foreign players – Michael and Brendan Gan – performed to expectations.
“I hope the locals will follow. But So far, I’m happy with their progress and I believe that the team can play quality football.

“The reason why we kept 90 per cent of our players from last year’s squad was we wanted continuity in our one touch football approach.
“Against Felda, we had about 60 per cent of possession and tonight, I think we had better ball possession than our opponent.

“On our part, we will try our best to keep the crowd entertained so that more will come and fill up the seats at Likas Stadium in our coming home matches,” Shahriman said.
On Jufrey Omopor’s home debut, Shahriman said: “I think he was over excited with the crowd. And I think the crowd likes him very much, but I’m confident he will get better and get use to the environment playing at this level of competition.”

Sabah take on T-Team in a tricky away tie on Tuesday. They will leave for Terengganu today.
And Shahriman hinted that Justin is likely to play a different strategy for the game.

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