KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos must show more maturity and character if they are to save their season from deteriorating further.
Losing to a club side like Proton FC on Friday is unacceptable by the Rhinos’ reputation in the country’s football scene.
When a team of the Rhinos’ standard lose to a club side like Proton FC – without disrespect to the club side, it is certainly a wake-up call that something must be done quickly in order to avoid further embarrassment.
One glaring weakness that needs instant improvement is their finishing touch.
The problem (finishing) is not something new as it has been haunting them from day one of the league.
And now the Rhinos are facing an uphill task of surviving in the competition or to be frank – to fight for Premier League survival – as the defeat against Proton FC edged them closer to the relegation zone.
They are only separated by two points from the team – Armed Forces – that occupy the second last spot for relegation while SDM Kepala Batas languish at the bottom of the standings on three points.
Sabah are in 10th position on 11 points while Sarawak, who defeated Shahzan Muda on Friday in 11th while The Young Tigers (Malaysia Under-19 squad) top the league on 43 points.
In the match against Proton FC, Sabah had only themselves to blame as they could have ended the contest in the first half with at least four scoring opportunities.
Sabah also had good penalty claims, both of which involved Zaykiel Leong who was floored inside the box, that were waved away by the referee that left team manager Rahman Zakaria fuming.
“That was a clear penalty. He (Zaykiel) was brought down inside the penalty box and I don’t see any reason why he was denied a penalty.
“I cannot agree with the referee as on one of those occasions, he could have given at least one when we should have got two,” said Rahman.
“We can accept defeat but not this way.
“We are not trying to make an excuse out of the defeat because I admit we did not play to our true potential.
While it may not be the Rhinos’ best performance, but should they have been more sharper in their finishing, the game could have been theirs as Zaykiel was twice presented with golden opportunities to put them in front before young Proton FC midfielder Md. Khairul Akhyar Husain scored the all-important goal in the 64th minute
On both occasions, Zaykiel only had the keeper to beat only to see his attempts off target.
“I can understand the fans feeling. Still I hope they will continue to support the team and on our part, we must improve quickly,” added Rahman.
The Rhinos will next be at home to face Shahzan Muda Pahang on June 26 and a victory is a must at all costs.