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Friday, June 21, 2013

Juniors thump Selangor to keep last-eight hope alive

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahawks Juniors kept their quarter-finals hope alive after thumping Selangor 3-1 in a President’s Cup challenge at the Shah Alam Stadium yesterday. The State Under-21 side fought their way back from a goal down before they turned on the screw on the host to eventually register the crucial win. Anything less than the three points could have seen their hope as good as gone.

 However, they were forced to play with one man lesser following the sending off of goalkeeper Rendy Robson, who was punished for retaliation. It was alleged that a Selangor striker had kicked the lanky custodian, who has been in brilliant form, before he retaliated with similar action that prompted him to be shown a red card.

 The Sabahawks Juniors had a nervous start and saw themselves trailing by a goal as early as in the third minute when Selangor drew first blood through Muhammad Asnan’s effort. However, as they settled down, midfielder Sabri Sahar scored the leveler in the 36th minute, before Hafizan Jahar put them into the lead three minutes before the break.

 In the second half, they maintained their momentum, and sealed their victory when teenager Mohd Farris’ effort deflected off Salamon Raj and went straight into the back of the Selangor net. “It was a good game. They played their hearts out. The only thing I’m sad about is the sending off of our keeper. It shouldn’t have happened … I mean he should not have retaliated,” said Datuk Juil Nuatim when contacted yesterday.

 “This win showed that on our day, we could take on any team. But as we all know, scoring goals has been our main problem. But today (yesterday), they were brilliant in front of goal as they managed to score three, which is kind of rare this season. “I hope they will go on and play with this kind of determination, spirit and commitment for the remainder of our challenge.

 If they can do that, I think our chances of making the last eight is good,” the Sabah team manager added. However, the win was not good enough for Sabahawks Juniors to move up the standings as both Penang and Negeri Sembilan won their respective battles. Penang scored a handsome 4-0 win over Melaka while Negeri Sembilan trounced Kedah 3-0.

 With the win, Penang remain in eighth place, which is the last slot for the quarter-finals while both Negeri Sembilan and Sabah, who are level on 44 points are trailing by three points. Next, Sabahawks Juniors will take on Terengganu at home on June 24 before entertaining Armed Forces three days later (also at home).

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