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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Michal spoils Sabahawks’ party

New Sabah Times
ZAINIZAM … scores twice in the 45th and 60th minutes.
KOTA KINABALU: Unlucky Sabahawks had to share the spoils in the two-all draw against Perak on Tuesday, no thanks to Michal Kubala’s injury time cracker that denied the outfit from the Land Below the Wind from avenging their first round defeat to the same side.

 Sabahawks were heading for a shock 2-1 victory when Slovakian Michal struck the equaliser for the host at the death! Perak drew first blood through Michal, also from a set-piece, by netting home the opener in the 34th minute before in-form Zainizam Marjan scored twice for Sabahawks in the 45th and 60th minutes.

 And as much as he wanted to return home with the maximum points, Sabahawks head coach Justin Ganai had to be contented with a point. He said they were a little bit unlucky to have conceded the equaliser at the death, but was happy with the commitment and efforts from his players.
“I hope this will be the start of our revival in putting our challenge back on the right track,” said Justin, adding that with a little bit of luck they could have won the match. “When we look at our preparations ahead of the clash, we did not have much training prior to the clash, and at the same time, we were still without two of our imports players to strengthen our squad.

 “So to return home with a point, is quite an achievement. Furthermore, we had a depleted squad. “I’m satisfied and happy with the players’ commitment and efforts on the pitch because it was never easy against a side that has two import players, and playing in front of their home crowd.

 I want to thank the players for that. He said that it is important for any team to have depth to get a good result in the Super League. Justin said Ronnie Harun, who missed the Perak game in Likas, gave him more options to chart his strategy in Ipoh. “The difference between the matches (in Likas and Ipoh) was that we had many players out through injury (and suspension) and that we conceded soft goals.

 “In Ipoh, we made minimal mistakes and the return of Ronnie to left back enabled Sumardi (Hajalan) to move into a more central role in midfield. “Sumardi is a playmaker and can hold up the ball well. We were much better in the middle of the park … that is what we need in the team, a player that can play in several positions.

 Shahrul Azhar Ture, a right winger, was another player who played out of position at right back but has excelled, thus covering for the injured Alto Linus. Zainizam according to Justin is also in good scoring form. He said Zainizam scored two in Ipoh and now he has three in his last two matches.

 “It shows we can score goals,” said Justin. Justin hopes all this will be a positive sign that Sabah will be better in the second half of the season. The one point gained saw Sabahawks drop one rung to 11th place in the 14-team league, collecting 16 points from 14 matches – three wins, seven draws and four losses. 

However, Sabahawks are only four points adrift of seventh placed Negeri Sembilan in the league, currently led by Lions XII FC on 36 points. In another development, Justin revealed that goalkeeper Irwan Jamil will be out for around four weeks after fracturing his nasal bone.

He was stretchered off just 11 minutes into the game. Irwan, who started ahead of usual first choice Syed Adney Syed Hussin, accidentally hit the goalpost when diving at full stretch to stop a goal-bound shot. The goalkeeper will miss Sabah’s next game at home to Felda United FC on May 4.

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