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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The night when rivalry turns to fraternity

Borneo Post
THE SPECIAL ONE ON A SPECIAL NIGHT: Sabah-born Sarawak player Bobby Gonzales in action during the match. — Photo by Chimon Upon
Last night’s tribute by the home fans was in reference to the tense situation in Lahad Datu. It was an outpouring of heartwarming affection rarely seen in Malaysian football. Before and during the match, the Crocs supporters put up banners and signages of varying sizes and shapes with ‘Pray for Sabah’ and ‘Peace in Sabah’ written all over Stadium Negeri, expressing their concern and unity with their Malaysian neighbours in Sabah.

Some 500 fans also stayed back at the stadium after the match, showing their respect for their supposed opponents. Sarawak chief coach Robert Alberts was among the many quite touched by the atmosphere last night despite ruing missed chances and the lost opportunity for Sarawak to occupy top spot in the Premier League table.

“We were not sharp enough. We had a lot of chances but were unable to convert them to goals. There were simply too many long balls played and I think the team tried too hard which led to them stressing themselves out.” “Despite being unable to win tonight, I certainly love the atmosphere tonight. “Everybody showed love for each other and it was a good match day as far as I am concerned,” he said.

Alberts also admitted that Sabah were the physically stronger team. Sarawak wasted most of their chances during the match with former Sabah player Bobby Gonzales, Joseph Kalang and team captain Shahrol Saperi among the Crocs who came close to scoring. After the match, the Sabah team did an emotional lap of gratitude around the stadium to thank Sarawak fans.

For those at Stadium Negeri last night it was an occasion to savour. It seemed that everyone there knew that something much more important and significant than a football match took place.

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