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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Positive start

New Sabah Times
NO DIVING … Sabahawks’ two-goal hero Koh Traore (No 10) about to fall to the ground after being pulled on the shirt by Farouk Hashim (No 20).
KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks kick started their Premier League second round challenge on a positive note after registering a 3-2 win over fellow strugglers Perlis at the Likas Stadium yesterday. Malian striker Koh Traore scored twice for the hosts as they extended their unbeaten run to five matches in a row. It was Traore’s 10th goal of the season, including one in the FA Cup.

 But despite a bright start to the game, the Sabahawks were forced to sweat it out as gritty Perlis refused to back down. In fact, they needed an own goal by Farouk Hashim to take all the three points. It was an excellent start for the Sabahawks, although it was Perlis who had the first chance in the game. Striker Romdhizat Jamian was presented with a golden opportunity in the first minute of the tie where he only had Sabahawks custodian Shahril Sa’ari to beat after breaking loose from the Sabahawks defenders, but fortunately for the hosts, the striker’s attempt went wide.

 The first attempt seemed to have awakened the Sabahawks, as Koh drew first blood for his side by connecting a Shahrudin Yakup’s corner kick with a glancing header after only four minutes of play. Sabahawks were 2-0 up in the 27th minute with Koh netting his second, but this time it was Zainizam Marjan the provider, who capitalised on a blunder by Perlis defenders.

 The veteran striker picked up the loose ball, and centered it to the unmarked Koh, who blasted home the second goal from just outside the six-yard box. But as the match approached the half hour mark, Perlis managed to reduce the deficit through Md Badrul Hisani’s effort after connecting a Mohd Nurfirdaus cross from the left. Muhd Nasri Thauhid then put his side on level terms after netting Perlis goal second two minutes before the half-time break.

 When the second half resumed, the visitors looked to be more a more organised side, but found themselves trailing again at the hour after Farouk put the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear a Julamri Muhammad cross, who made his first start in about one and a half years, due to injury. “It was an important win, because this was the first match of the second round,” commented head coach David McCreery when met after the tie.

 “This is an opportunity for us to move forward and build our campaign from here,” he added. Team manager Datuk Yusof Kassim shared McCreery’s view, before insisting that, it is important for the team to continue working hard. “If we continue to win home games, it will be great. We know they have been working hard, and I couldn’t ask for more because a win is a win,” said Yusof.

 However, he added that the team’s mental strength is something they need to look into. “I think we still lack mental strength, and this is the thing we will try to improve. We know they can compete, and if they are mentally ready for the challenges ahead, I think we should be able to make a decent finish in the league,” said Yusof, before adding: “now, we have to focus and continue fighting.” Sabahawks take on KL SPA Putrajaya FC in their next tie away.

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