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Friday, February 22, 2013

Juniors deliver

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks Juniors nicked their first home win after edging Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in a President’s Cup tie at the Likas Stadium yesterday. Striker Zul Mansshah Aling scored a brace for the host team in the opening 45 minutes before limping out with an injury later in the second half. Zul Mansshah slotted home the opener after 12 minutes of play from a freekick from just outside the box.

 The striker’s powerful grounder went straight into the back of the Kuala Lumpur net with its keeper Muhd Zul Haikal Sohaimie left hapless. Then in the 34th minute, Zul Mansshah added his second, and this time he had the simplest of jobs with a tap-in goal after being fed by Hafizan Jahar, also from a set piece. Kuala Lumpur could have reduced the deficit minutes later, but fortunately for Sabahawks Juniors, Mohd Shamrin Azifi’s attempt hit the crossbar and went out of play.

 After the break, Sabahawks Juniors were denied a spot kick when Eyo Matthew was clearly brought down by the Kuala Lumpur custodian. From the ensuing incident, Sabahawks Juniors still had the opportunity to go three goals up as the loose ball fell to the feet of Zul Mansshah, who squandered the opportunity of completing a hat-trick as his attempt went over the crossbar. Kuala Lumpur finally managed to reduce the deficit when Mohd Amin Khamis scored the consolation by connecting a cross from Mohd Hairi Azhar.

 The scoreline stayed 2-1 until the final whistle. Sabahawks Juniors team manager Datuk Juil Nuatim when met after the match was delighted to see his boys finally win their first battle on home turf. “It is a win, and that’s the most important thing,” said Juil. “But overall, I’m not really satisfied, because I think we had a bad second half.

We controlled and dominated the first, but we allowed them to fight back in the second. “Our midfield was a bit messy in the second half, so as our defensive play. This is the thing that we need to look into. So I hope they will improve on their weaknesses before our upcoming games,” Juil added. Sabahawks Juniors were forced to play without three of their key men, namely midfielder Sabri Sahar, Didie Arizal Ibrahim and skipper Dendy Lowa.

 Sabri is out injured after featuring for the senior side on Monday, while both Didie and Dendy are with the seniors who face Police in an away battle today. Head coach Justin Ganai was also not with the team yesterday. He is currently in the national capital attending a refresher coaching course, so assistant coach Burhan Ajui took charge.

 “I’m happy because the players who came in to fill in the vacuum left by the trio have done their part. They managed to fit in nicely in the team,” he said, referring to Fread Filemon Saih, Hafizal Jinik and Benerlys Raim. “What we have learnt in training also worked out. For instance, the two goals were from set pieces, which we have been practising during training. On Justin’s absence, Burhan said: “What we are doing is to continue what he (Justin) has taught the team. We just do and try to make it better.” On the missing trio, he commented: “Obviously, it did affect us because they are key players of the team. Nevertheless, I’m delighted that we managed to get over this with a win.”

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