Source : Daily Express
The Rhinos suffered their second consecutive defeat in the Premier League on Friday night but team manager, Rahman Zakaria is adamant Sabah have yet to rise to their full potential.
"Of course we are disappointed (with the loss). We controlled the match but we just could not score. Nonetheless, I am not blaming any player," he said Saturday.
Rahman said the Rhinos had played well as they controlled much of the 90 minutes of play but just could not find the net.
In this respect, he said as far as the team management is concerned, they were confident that it is not the end for Sabah although the need to sharpen their finishing touch has become imperative more than ever now.
"In such circumstances, we are not saying there is too much pressure but a win will be vital to boost team morale," he said.
In the match against the Armed Forces in Likas Stadium on Friday, the Rhinos, just like in their first home match against Selangor PKNS, dominated the game.
Nigerian import Charles Obi who scored twice in his debut in Likas against Selangor PKNS was again in his element, this time feeding his team mates.
But Lady Luck was not with the Rhinos.
The Armed Forces managed to steal the three points from Sabah through Alphonsus Micheal Angian's 79th minute strike, no thanks to failure by the Sabah defence to clear the ball from their own box.
Rahman declined to comment on the standard of refereeing that night although the reaction of the home fans, especially on some of the off side decisions given against Sabah that night, said it all.
He also explained that coach Drago Mamic ran onto the field during the near free-for-all in the 79th minute to restrain his players because he did not want to see any of them get into trouble and faces disciplinary action.
Players from both teams began to shove each other when the Armed Forces' defender, Mafry Balang retaliated to the challenge from Paulus Shitaleni Shipanga but referee Noor Azman Nordin and his assistants managed to disperse the players.
Mamic was accompanied out of the field by an assistant referee, while three yellow cards were flashed, one to the Armed Forces and two to Sabah.
Rahman said Obi who was among the two yellow card recipients in the incident needs to be more cautious as he has now picked up two yellow cards and one more caution from the referee in the coming matches would mean a one-match suspension. The other Rhinos booked were midfielder, Rosdin Wasli and striker Shipanga.
Sabah's next match would be against clubside Kuala Muda in Kedah on Jan 9. After a one-week break, the Rhinos will face Kelantan at home on Jan 19. The Rhinos would open their FA Cup campaign on Feb 6 against Melaka at home. The second defeat has now left Sabah languishing third from the bottom of the Premier League table after collecting just one point from three matches. Three points from the Sabah match brought the Armed Forces tally to seven to remain at the top of the table over city boys Kuala Lumpur.