Source : New SabahTimes.com
NO WAY OUT … Charles Obi (No 10) tries to dribble past the tight Pahang defence during one of Sabah’s attacks.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah are only one win away from confirming their quarter-final berth after notching a comfortable 3-0 over Pahang in a Malaysia Cup Group C tie at the Likas Stadium last night.
What they need to do now is to win their final group game away to Police on May 26 to claim their ticket for the knockout stage of the prestigious tournament.
Last night Sabah produced a master class as they outclassed their opponents throughout the 90 minutes of play.
Sabah scored through striker-in-chief Charles Obi and a double by his striking partner Prince Ativie Guy.
Sabah started off pretty well and managed to take a 9th minute lead when they were awarded a spot kick.
It started from an attempt from Chow Chee Wing from inside the box during a melee when a Pahang player was caught for handsball inside the area.
Obi stepped up to take the spot kick where the lanky Nigerian hitman easily slotted home the opener defeating the hapless keeper Mohd Iqbal Mohd Suhimi.
Then in the 13th minute, Sabah could have been 2-0 up when Prince Ativie picked up a weak clearance by the keeper.
The speedy Prince Ativie played a 1-2 with Obi, but unfortunately he shot wide.
Pahang’s only attempt in the first half came in the 26th minute when Khairul Shah Mamat unleashed a 30-metre shot that Sabah young custodian Irwan Jamil palmed away for a fruitless corner.
In the 33rd minute, Sabah suffered a minor setback as skipper Rosdin Wasli was stretchered out after getting a hard knock on his knee.
Sabah’s head coach Drago Mamic brought in youngster Hardy Charles Parsi to replace Rosdin.
Despite having two rather inexperienced players in midfield with Zulamri Muhammad – a surprise choice to play in the middle of the park alongside Hardy – Sabah were still pretty lively.
On the stroke of half time, Sabah were twice denied from extending their lead with Prince Ativie’s first attempt hitting the goalpost, before he unleashed a grounder that went just wide with the keeper already beaten.
Sabah started the second half aggressively and could have found their second goal in the very first minute of the half, but once again Prince Ativie’s attempt went straight to the keeper.
Once again, Prince squandered another opportunity when he managed to intercept the ball from a weak clearance by the keeper.
He only had the keeper to beat and this time his attempt went wide yet again.
Minutes later, Prince was seen changing his boots and it seemed to bring him some kind of luck as he finally managed to help Sabah extend their lead with an overhead kick in the 65th minute.
It all started from the throw-in taken by Ronny Harun. It found Obi, who back headed the ball and out of the blue, the alert Prince Ativie showed a bit of his acrobatic skill by scoring with an overhead kick that caught the keeper off guard.
And it did not end there as Sabah continued their onslaught.
Obi was close to netting his second goal in the 70th minute after nice work from P. Rajes. However, Obi unleashed a shot that went off target.
Three minutes later, Pahang could have reduced the deficit, but Abdul Wafy Abdul Ghafar saw his attempt sail over the crossbar.
And in the 76th minute, this time it was Obi who missed a sitter. He only had the keeper to beat, but unfortunately he saw his powerful attempt from close range go wide.
Then it was Prince Ativie’s turn to waste the opportunity as his close-range attempt also went wide.
But Prince Ativie finally made amends in the closing stage of the game when a Zainizam Marjan attempt rebounded off the keeper and hit his (Prince Ativie) chest and went into the net for Sabah’s third goal of the night.
Despite the victory, Sabah remain in third on 15 points as Perak, who merely managed to settle for a two-all draw against Sarawak in another tie in Kuching, stay in second spot on better goal average.
Kedah, who will take on Police tonight, remain on top of the standings on 16 points.