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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Football Kings!

New Sabah Times
HISTORIC … Sabah players party after the final yesterday.
KUANTAN: Sabah are the Kings of Sukma football after taking the gold medal following their victory over Perak in the final played at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuatan, Pahang last night. Sabah won 3-0 in extra time after a 0-0 stalemate in regulation time. Zul Mansshah Aling, Leopold Alfonso Otong and MD Rozaimi Abd Rahman scored for the champions.

 Zul Mansshah came off the bench to give Sabah the lead by slotting home the opener before Leopold made it 2-0 after connecting a low cross from the left flank to beat the keeper all the way with a low drive into the back of the net. Ironically, it was also in Pahang that Sabah made it into the semi-finals in 1996 where they eventually won their first bronze medal in the football event.

 Last night, they made history of their own by clinching the gold, which is dubbed as the Mother of Gold Medals. While at home, their senior side gave new coach McCreery a winning start after edging nine-man Negeri Sembilan 3-1 in a Super League tie at the Likas Stadium.

 However, the win proved to be a little too late for the State side as the win brought no significance to their challenge apart from completing their fixtures. They ended 13th in the 14-team standings, and will be involved in a playoff. If they fail in their mission in Melaka on July 17, they will feature in the Premier League next season.

 Sabah started the match in bright fashion but Negeri on the other hand too had their chances which went begging. The Sabahawks drew first blood through captain Hendrik Helmke, who slotted home the opener from the spot. The penalty was awarded after a Negeri defender handled the ball inside the box.

 Bad luck continued to hamper Negeri when midfielder Norismaidhan Ismail was sent off for collecting two yellow cards in quick succession after 31 minutes. Unperturbed, Negeri equalised through striker Jean Emmanule Effa Owona with a solo effort. He was yellow carded for pulling his shirt out with the celebration.

The first half ended 1-1. The teams went into the second half with equal determination to get the winner but after close calls at either end of the pitch, it was Sabah who got on the scoresheet in the 76th minute. Flanker Sharuddin Yakup was the scorer with a simple tap in before Negeri Sembilan were reduced to nine men in the 87th minute when S. Kunalan was sent off after a tackle from behind on Sharuddin.

 Bobby Gonzales, who came on for Alto Linus, scored the third goal after Helmke’s glorious pass set him free in injury time. With the victory, Sabah finished the season with seven wins, seven draws and 12 defeats to collect 28 points.

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