KOTA KINABALU: Australian Gary Philips remains calm despite seeing his side suffer their first defeat in only their second game of the season after losing 0-2 to Selangor PKNS in an away battle on Friday.
The Sabah Head Coach said it is still early in the season and that there is no need to press the panic button yet.
Gary said the team needs more time to adapt to the new system he is introducing, and that maybe after a month or so, the team should be more confident playing to the way he wants them to play.
He admitted that his side did not have the best of starts against PKNS.
“To be honest, we were not having the best start. During the warm up prior to the game they (players) looked tired and in the first half they also looked tired,” said Gary, who is also the team manager.
“Our first-half display was certainly not good and not what I had expected,” he said. “We looked tired. After the break, we made some progress and at times we played a lot better.
But Gary said it was silly errors committed by his charges that did the damage to the team.
“At 1-0 we still had a good chance of winning the game. We had three or four decent chances, two went over the bar while one went wide. PKNS had two chances and they put them in. And when they score the second, it was difficult for us to make a comeback,” he said, before adding that they conceded the second goal 22 seconds before half time.
Mohd Zamri Hassan scored a brace for Selangor PKNS by netting home in the 32nd and 45th minutes that eventually sent them to the top of the table, while Sabah stays third from the bottom with only one point to show compared to six for PKNS after 180 minutes of Premier League action.
While not looking for excuses, Gary said that not having the best recovery session is another factor that contributed to their defeat.
“We have not had the best recovery session after our first game (against Felda) but that’s the best we could do considering the short time frame we had prior to our match against PKNS.
But despite not having the best start since taking over the hot seat, Gary remains convinced better things will soon come for the team.
However, he said that the players need to adapt quickly to the new system they are playing.
“We still have a long way to go. This team needs more time, and maybe after another one month they should be able to adapt well and play more confidently.
Sabah made minor changes to the squad that was held to a scoreless draw by KL Felda United FC in the opener with defender Mohd June Azral Lalah and Mohd Farid Ideris starting the game ahead of Razlan Oto and Alto Linus.
Harold John remained as the No 1 ball stopper, while Md Reithauddin Awang Embran, Madzalan Emoi and Henry Parsi started the game at the backline together with Mohd June, who replaced Julamri Muhammad, who was pushed to play at the left of midfield.
Mohd Radzi Hussin and Christopher Musa were at the heart of midfield, while Shahrul Azhar Ture on the right with Mohd Farid and Bobby Gonzales spearheading the attack.
After the break, Gary brought Razlan for Julamri while Rosdin Wasli and Leopold Alfonso Oto came in for Madzalan Emoi and Christopher Musa respectively.
That was the first appearance of the season for both Rosdin and Leopold.
And Gary admitted that their next home game against Harimau Muda on Monday (Jan 18) is a game that they must win.
“They will be full of running and we have to match them physically … if we can do that we will win the game.
“It is an important match for us because we will face another tough game away to the Armed Forces next so we better get a desirable result,” he said.