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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kota Belud off to flying start

New Sabah Times
GOOD LUCK … Tawfiq, presents a souvenir to Papar team manager Ridwan Ismail, witnessed by Safa Papar chairman Iman Ali, right, and Lawrence, second left.
KOTA KINABALU: Kota Belud kicked off their Datuk Seri Musa Aman Cup Inter-District Football Tournament with a big bang after registering a resounding 4-0 win over Pitas in a Group A challenge at the Sukma Field D in Likas yesterday. Tawau and Sipitang also got off to a winning start after defeating their respective opponents on Day 1 of the competition that was played at four different venues. But it was Masmilan Anil that caught the eye.

The 16-year-old, who donned Kota Belud colours, is the son of Sabah’s former football star, Matlan Marjan. Unlike his father, who was one of the most feared offensive players during his heyday, or rather before his life ban for his alleged involvement in match-fixing that rocked the nation’s football scene in the mid-90s, Masmilan is a defender playing on the right. Even then, he still managed to help his side net the opener in the seventh minute of the tie.

 But Masmilan is not alone in his battle for glory with Kota Belud, as his uncle (Matlan’s younger brother) Mohd Saiful is also in the team, and playing in left back. And it will be interesting to see if both Masmilan and Mohd Saiful can follow the footsteps of their father Matlan and brothers, who have donned Sabah and national colours. In fact, Zainizam, Mohd Saiful’s other brother is still with the State team, and is one of the few seniors left in the State squad.

 Yesterday, apart from Masmilan’s opener, Kota Belud scored the second goal courtesy of an own goal by Pitas’ Ronaldo, who slotted the ball into his own net three minutes after the break before Mohd Ashrafi Abdan (63rd minute) and Edward Musa (75th minute) scored the third and fourth respectively. The victory enabled Kota Belud to top Group A on superior goal difference, with Tawau in second place after their 3-2 win over Kinabatangan at the Penampang Stadium.

 Cebagoo FC’s Mohd Arfiyansah starred for Tawau by netting a brace while Junaidi Jaafar scored the other goal for Tawau. Kinabatangan replied through Mohd Khaliz and Bahrudin Bakar. In the Group B challenge, it was heartbreak for Papar after squandering a two-goal first half lead before bowing out 2-3 to Sipitang. Papar, spearheaded by at least four of this year’s Reserve League squad players, seemed to run out of steam in the second half as Sipitang won the battle of the fittest in a match played at the Likas Stadium. Papar had taken a comfortable 2-0 first-half lead with Jetko Romedius and Ceralo Sean finding the back of the net in the 10th and 16th minutes.

 Despite trailing, gritty Sipitang fought their way back and managed to reduce the deficit through Raipic Rahim in the 78th minute. Fneckly Baris then levelled the tie in the 85th minute before substitute Firdaus Michael scored the all-important goal with two minutes remaining to complete the come-from-behind win. The win saw them top the group as the other tie between favourites Keningau and Beluran ended in a two-all draw. Eyo Mathew and Sham Sonalen scored for Keningau while Ridzuan Raymond and Fread Filemon Saih were on the scoresheet for Beluran.

 Today’s fixtures will see Kota Belud taking on Tawau at Penampang Field B, Kinabatangan versus Pitas (Likas Field B), Keningau up against Papar (Penampang Stadium) and Beluran to meet Sipitang (Sukma Field D). All the matches will start at 4pm. Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan officiated at the opening ceremony yesterday. Speaking at the function Tawfiq pledged that the Ministry through the State Sports Council will support football development in the State. He also reminded them on the importance of discipline among them. Among those present were Sabah Football Association (SFA) deputy president Datuk Lawrence Gimbang.

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