KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos squandered a two-goal lead before succumbing to their ninth defeat of the season after conceding a late goal against Felda United to eventually see them losing 2-3 on the road on Monday.
Julamri Muhammad helped Sabah to take the lead by slotting home the opener in the 27th minute, before striker Zaykiel Leong extended their lead 10 minutes later.
But Felda United managed to reduce the deficit four minutes before the half time break through Md Saufi Md Ibrahim.
Md Rizal Ahmad scored the equaliser for his side before former international striker Hasmawi Hassan gave Sabah the killer blow by notching the late winner in injury time.
“This is football and anything can happen, but then again it is sad to see us squandering the chance of winning the game after taking a two-goal lead.
“Looking at the situation that we are in, this is unacceptable. So, I’m really sad and disappointed we did not at least settle for a draw,” said team manager Rahman Zakaria.
“But I don’t want to see them cry over spilt milk as the most important thing now is our upcoming home match against Melaka on Friday.
“So I want them to stay focused and keep trying to improve. This is another lesson to learn and we must use it positively … we need to move forward and must not give up the fight too easily.
“Furthermore, we have to keep improving as this will be part of our preparations for the Malaysia Cup.”
Despite the defeat, Sabah remain 10th in the standings on 14 points, but relegation rivals Armed Forces, who ended their clash against Proton FC in a stalemate draw, are not too far away in 11th spot as they are only behind on goal difference. Both teams are level on 14 points.
Sarawak, who succumbed to an embarrassing 7-0 defeat to T-Team of Terengganu remain in 12th placing on 11 points.
SDM Kepala Batas languish at the bottom of the standings on three points.
Harimau Muda are unshakeable at the top of the standings. They registered their 15th win of the season by edging Shahzan Muda of Pahang on the road.
They lead the pack on 46 points, while Terengganu’s T-Team are keeping the pace with the leaders after notching a big win over Sarawak. They stay in second spot on 41 points followed by Johor on 36 points. The Southern State side edged PKNS FC 1-0 away from home.
Kuala Lumpur also maintained their fourth placing after thumping Melaka 3-0 at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka.
Proton FC, who are two points behind Kuala Lumpur on 30 points, are in fifth spot followed by Felda United in sixth on 25 points.