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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First home defeat

New Sabah Times
LEAKY DEFENCE … Sabahawks’ Rhys David Weston (No 6) clashes with the Kedah custodian Abd Hadi Abbdul Hamid from the ensuing corner kick during their Premier League at the Likas Stadium yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU: Clueless Sabahawks succumbed to their first home defeat in a Premier League match yesterday – no thanks to their lackadaisical performance. They went down 2-0 to the visiting Kedah, who scored a goal in each half through skipper Mohd Khyril Muhymeen Zambri and Muhamad Fiqkry Md Isa. 

This was their third defeat from five games played thus far, and the signs are not looking good for the State side in their quest for Super League promotion. National striker Mohd Khyril coolly blasted home the opener from six yards out after receiving a superb cross from Mohd Shazuan Aliff before Muhammad Fiqkry added the second with a grounder from the edge of the penalty box 10 minutes from regulation time.

 But it was certainly uninspiring or rather a half-hearted show from the State squad. Even head coach David McCreery was fuming with the performance put up by his boys. When met shortly after the match, McCreery questioned his charges’ desire and commitment towards their challenge. He hinted that some of his charges are taking things rather too easy.

 “I’m not going to name the players but they need to stand up and be counted for … we can’t give away goals stupidly,” said McCreery. “There are experienced players in this squad and young players coming through, but everybody has to work together and fight for the team,” he added. “I hope this (defeat) hurts them as much it hurts me and the manager, and take it as a good lesson and work harder for our upcoming matches.

 He was also disappointed with his side for not taking their chances well. “We could have gone on and won by one or two nil had we scored with the first chance,” said McCreery obviously referring to Wan Mohd Aliff’s failed attempt in the 39th minute. The striker failed to connect from six yards out after being fed by Shahrul Azhar Ture. It was shortly after the missed opportunity that Kedah scored the opener.

 Meanwhile, interim team manager Alijus Hj Sipil refused to take away the credit from Kedah, by saying “the better team won”. He went on to say that it was a battle of the fittest, and that Kedah proved to have the edge over Sabah. “This was our fifth game in two weeks or so. Although all the teams have been playing the same number of matches, but it hit us more than the rest of the teams because of the travelling that we have to do.

 “I’m not looking for excuses, but that’s the fact we have to live with, and we will find ways to overcome it,” said Alijus. The dowdy encounter saw not many chances being created by both sides, with Kedah looking to be more creative than the home side. Sabah who went into the match with up to four changes to the squad that lost to Kuala Lumpur on Friday, had only one decent chance in the opening half through Wan Mohd Aliff which he wasted.

 He squandered another opportunity from a similar position in the 52nd minute but again, he mistimed his kick after Koh Traore’s reverse pass found him inside the six-yard box before being substituted by Leopold Alfonso Otong shortly afterwards. It proved costly as Kedah increased their lead after 80 minutes when Fiqkry completed a magnificent team move to fire a stiff grounder from the edge of the box that beat Shahril for the second time.

 Traore had Sabah’s best chance of the game late on to score a consolation, but his attempt from a Rhys’ long ball went over the bar. The League is taking a break, and would only resume on February 15. But before that, the Sabahawks have a date with KL Felda United FC this Friday at the same venue in a FA Cup first-round encounter.

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