Sabah failed to capitalise on their home advantage when they were defeated 2-1 by an average-looking KL side in their Msia Cup group B match in Likas here, Wednesday.
After an uneventful first half, Sabah took the lead in the 58th minute through skipper Zainzam Marjan’s header.
However the game went downhill just seconds after the goal when, Rhinos keeper Mohd Salawi, who was playing in only his second game, tried to be fancy when he opted to dribble the ball past KL’s Yong Kuong Yong inside own penalty box after collecting a seemingly easy ball from a fruitless KL attack.
Yong however stole the ball from Salawi and coolly slotted it into the empty net much to the wrath of the home fans who immediately called for Salawi to be replaced. Their wishes were duly granted when coach Drago Mamic took off Salawi and sent in Irwan Jamil as the replacement.
The damage had already been done though and KL took advantage of the lapse in the sabah defence to score the vital wining goal through Yong in the 73rd minute.
The win kept the city boys’ Msia cup dreams alive while Sabah will need to buck up if they are to make the competition’s knock our stages with only 3 Games remaining.
Questionable refereeeing by Abu Bakar Mohd Noor also dampened the game which in the last 15 minutes nearly turned into a free-for-all and resulted in both teams reduced to 10 men.
The fracas was triggered by the dismissal of Sabah’s Sylvester Sindih and Kuala Lumpur goalie Mohd Safiz Amri for an off the ball incident.
However, when play resumed, Abu Bakar failed to notice that Kuala Lumpur were still playing with eleven men despite the sending off.
It was only after protests from the Sabah bench and home fans did the officials finally realised the blunder, but not after about ten minutes of play.