Zaykiel saves Rhinos the blushes with late equaliser

KOTA KINABALU: Striker Zaykiel Leong spared Sabah from suffering a humiliating defeat after netting the equaliser two minutes from regulation time to eventually help his side earn a “face-saving” draw against lowly SDM Kepala Batas on Friday.

Team manager Rahman Zakaria had mixed feelings about the result.

Despite being disappointed for not being able to collect all the three points, he said losing the game could have been very embarrassing.

And Rahman must be right as defeat could have made them a laughing stock.

But even then, the one point gained from the clash is already too much to take especially for their die-hard fans, who had expected victory against the side that is currently languishing at the bottom of the standings.

And now they must be pondering whether things are going to get worse for the Rhinos, once dubbed a forced to be reckoned with in the country’s football scene.

Undoubtedly, now a big question lies in the heads of the fans wondering what is wrong and what is going to happen to the team next.

When you cannot beat a team like SDM Kepala Batas, then it would be hard to presume when Sabah will be winning their next matches!

So the Rhinos must be thankful the Premier League is taking a break – about a month – as this will be an opportunity for them to have a good look at themselves and to try to improve before things get worse.

In the game, Azman Nizam Abdullah put the homesters in front with his 64th minute strike before Zaykiel struck the equaliser on the 88th minute.

“It is two points lost rather than one point gained,” said Rahman who did not travel with the team due to work commitment.

“We were up against the bottom team in the Premier League and we should have taken full advantage of it to achieve victory. The team needs all three points to move up the table especially when we look at our current league position.

“Sabah did not lose which is good but we should have achieved a better result than a draw.

While admitting that fatigue due to travelling as well as suspected players’ fitness level could have contributed to the outcome of the match, but Rahman refused to make it an excuse.

“I just hope the team will try and work harder in the coming games,”” he said.

On a positive note, Rahman was delighted to see Zaykiel finally score his first goal since rejoining the team.

He said: “It was his first in three games and now that he has finally scored … we are happy for him. I hope the goals will come from him more often … he is a good player who always fights to the end.”

The Rhinos remain in 10th position after the draw on 11 points, with two wins, five draws and seven defeats in 14 games.

Sabah will only play their next league match against Selangor Proton FC at the Likas Stadium on June 19.


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