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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Embarrassing start

MATCH REPORT By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Rhinos kicked off their Premier League 2016 challenge on an embarrassing note as they were thrashed 1-4 by Selangor UiTM FC at the UiTM Mini Stadium in Shah Alam yesterday. Pavel Purishkin turned hero for the hosts as he registered the league’s first hat-trick of the new season.

The late afternoon clash saw him draw first blood with a powerful header after about half an hour of play. Sabah Rhinos could have found the leveller five minutes before half time, but unfortunately, its Nigerian striker Prince Tochukwu Nnake’s effort was disallowed for offside that eventually saw the opening half end 1-0 in UiTM FC’s favour.

 When the second half resumed, Sabah Rhinos upped their game, and their efforts were rewarded when leading striker Nnake easily tapped home the leveller five minutes into the half, finishing off a superb cross from Maxsius Musa. However, Sabah Rhinos found themselves trailing again in the 73rd minute.

And Uzbekistan’s Pavel was on target again, albeit that this time, it was a long-range effort. Not long after, UiTM FC extended their lead through Da Cruz Guardiano’s 80th minute effort, before Pavel completed his hat-trick by netting his side’s fourth goal one minute from regulation time that eventually saw the Sabah Rhinos crashing to a humiliating defeat.

 Even its Croatian head coach Vjeran Simunic was fuming after his side conceded four goals. He even pointed out that UiTM FC’s second, third and fourth goals were irregular, while pondering what happened to his first-choice custodian Mohd Fadzley Abdul Karim for letting in three long-range efforts.

 Speaking to reporters after the clash, Simunic said: “What is it about this game? For 70 minutes, the score was 1-1. Which team is better? Sabah. And two persons coming in and deciding game, and I don’t want to say … you know.”

 “I think the three goals (UiTM’s last three goals) are not regular, but what can I do. So it is very difficult now after this. We came here to win the game, and we were the better team, now we lost 4-1. “I’m an experienced coach, and I don’t remember any game like this. We were the better team for 70 minutes, 1-1 and we were attacking.

I don’t know what happened today (yesterday) to my goalkeeper, I don’t know. All (3) goals from 50 metres (out) ... very far,” he added. Sabah Rhinos are staying put in the national capital as they will be heading to Kuantan today for the Monday date against Kuantan FA.

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