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Friday, May 17, 2013

Winning touch

New Sabah Times
BLIND HEADER … Eyo Matthew tries to head the ball that went off target during their President’s Cup tie against Kedah at the Likas Stadium yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks Juniors finally found their winning touch after edging Kedah 3-2 in a President’s Cup tie at the Likas Stadium yesterday. They were forced to fight back from a goal down in the first half before slotting home three goals after the break to eventually collect the valuable three points. “It may not have been a pretty win, but it is surely a crucial one for us,” commented team manager Datuk Juil Nuatim when met after the match.

 “I’m also delighted to see that we finally managed to score three goals against our opponents, and I hope this will go on for the rest of our challenge. “I hope this victory will spur the players to work harder and try to keep the momentum going,” Juil added. The victory will surely give head coach Justin Ganai a great relief. Justin also concurred with his manager that this was indeed a crucial win for them.

 “Many would say this may be an ugly win, but it is a very important win for us. It not only helped us keep our challenge for a top eight finish intact, but it also helped instill greater confidence among the players. “We got to admit that it was not a good first half for us, as we looked rather fragile. When the second half resumed, we made some changes, and things looked much better,” said Justin, who will be seeking a back-to-back victory when they take on Kuala Lumpur in an away battle on Monday.

 “As I have said, this is an important win, but our next game will be equally important, if we harbour hope to push ourselves into the top eight. In fact, our next two games will be crucial, as winning both games will surely push us to the top half in the 18-team standings,” said Justin.

 Sabahawks Juniors saw themselves trailing after 13 minutes of play when Amir Husni Jamaludin poked home the opener after connecting a cross from Mohd Isham Syahriza from the left. The visitors came close on numerous occasions to extend their lead, but were denied by poor finishing.

 When the second half resumed, Sabahawks Juniors enjoyed a one-man advantage when Kedah’s Mohd Muzaimir was given the marching orders for a second yellow card offence early in the half. Capitalising on their opponents’ handicap, Sabahawks finally found the much-needed equaliser when Eyo Matthew headed home a corner taken by Sabri Sahar in the 56th minute.

 Sabahawks continued their onslaught, and finally took the lead when second-half substitute Awangku Hamizan Hamzah slotted home a grounder from just inside the penalty box after being fed by Eyo. In the 75th minute, Sabahawks Juniors were 3-1 up, and this time it was Rexjeson Pitirus who put his name on the scoresheet by easily picking up a rebound following an earlier attempt by Eyo from close range.

 With eight minutes remaining on the clock, both sides played with a man lesser after Sabahawks Juniors’ Hamizan was shown a straight red for a foul on Md Nizam Md Yusri. In injury time, Kedah reduced the deficit through Mohd Rafizol Roslan’s spectacular 35-metre long range effort.

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