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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

End of the road for Juniors

New Sabah Times
LUCKLESS … Leopold Alfonso Otong (in red) had at least twice saw his attempt saved by the Terengganu keeper.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks Junior’s journey in the President’s Cup challenge came to an end after losing 2-0 to Terengganu in the quarter-finals return leg tie at the Likas Stadium yesterday. Hopes were high for the State squad to get the better of the visiting opponents, having settled for a scoreless draw in the first leg encounter in Kuala Terengganu late last month.

 However, things turned out to be otherwise, as the gritty Terengganu show them the exit door, albeit in the hard way. In fact, it was a game that the Sabahawks Junior could have won comfortably but poor finishing saw them being punished for not taking their chances well.

 Without disrespect to Terengganu, the homesters had the better possession, and created enough chances to take the game into their own hands. They saw one of their attempts hit the crossbar and twice cleared off the line by the Terengganu defenders. “We are all disappointed, but this is football.

When you look at the game, we had better domination and created numerous chances, but unfortunately, again like in the first leg, lady luck seemed to shy away from the team. “In the first leg, we had three attempts that hit the bar or the goalpost, and today (yesterday), we one hit the bar, and the other two were cleared off the line.
And there are several more that were saved by their (Terengganu) custodian,” team manager Juil Nuatim said when met after the match. Speaking to players earlier on, Juil urged them to continue to try and improve themselves if they want to make football as their bread and butter.

 “This is not the end of your career. There is always next year. And to those who are over aged (for next year), you still stand a chance to get selected or promoted into the senior squad. “So it is important for everyone of you to always be ready,” he said. Meanwhile, head coach Johnny Dominicus also shared the sentiment with his manager, saying that with a little bit of luck, they could have been in the semis.

 “I have no complaints with the commitment and efforts from all the players. They have given all they could,” Johnny said. On the defeat, Johnny said: “I think we had better possession. We created more than enough chances. If anyone of those went it, things could have been different.” “Compared to them, their first goal was the only chance before they added the second in injury time.”

 Striker Zul Mansshah Aling could have put Sabahawks Junior in front with his 30th minute attempt. Despite already managing to lob the ball past the Terengganu keeper, his weak shot was cleared off the line by the Terengganu skipper Wan Mohd Firdaus. Then in the 43rd minute, Zackkalani Antanom saw his grounder from just outside the box saved by the custodian.

 In the 76th minute, Zul Mansshah failed to connect a superb cross from Sabri Sahar. He had already made contact with the ball, but again, the keeper was alert enough to clear the ball off the line. In the 80th minute, Maxsius Musa saw his 35-metre effort hit the crossbar with the keeper well beaten.

 It was three minutes later that Md Asyham scored the opener by unleashing a superb strike from the edge of the penalty box before Syed Sobri added the second in injury time. Ironically, all the qualifiers from the Group A, which Sabahawks Junior won, were ousted in the quarter-finals. For the record, this was the second year running that Sabah was shown the exit door despite having a superb group campaign. Last year, we were also booted out in the last eight.

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