Kota Kinabalu: Loyal Sabah fans who were eagerly anticipating to witness their team getting off to a glorious winning start were probably left reeling with hearts filled with disappointment as they exited the Likas Stadium here, on Monday night.
But contrary to what some may be saying about Sabah’s seemingly mediocre performance, Head Coach, Gary Phillips seemed rather satisfied if not delighted with the performance his players displayed.
He holds nothing against them for failing to win the match to secure the three points, but rather offered them praise for doing well to defend against a much better prepared opponent.
“I’m always happy to keep a clean sheet. I was very happy that the defence performed the way they did. I thought the back five, including the goalkeeper, did very well. They all did their jobs very well.
“Our priority was to concentrate defensively working together and I think we achieved that last night. Most of Felda’s shots came from long range so that’s an indication that we defended quite well,” said Phillips.
He said this yesterday when met for comments on the outcome of Sabah’s 2010 Premier League opening fixture against KL Felda United FC on Monday night.
He said that the team’s preparation in the run up to the match had not been ideal and considering the fact that their opponents had far better preparation, a point earned from scoreless draw was considered a good result.
“Our preparation has not been ideal. Given that we’ve only played local teams, last night was probably a better indication of where we are at and how much more work we have to do.
“Felda have had a very good preparation, they’ve got a lot of experience and have a lot of ex-international players. They’ve had six or seven games, all against Super League teams, and they only lost two.
So they’ve got a good record already and came into the game well prepared and I think we did ok against them,” said Phillips.
He said that the match revealed certain areas, which he felt the team needs to improve in and that in due course such areas will be improved as the league progresses.
Phillips, who sat in the stands during the first half to gain a wider perspective of the game, said that he was happy with the team’s performance, but noted certain weaknesses when the match progressed into the second half.
“When you look at the first half performance I think we had three or four decent opportunities to score a goal and in another night they would probably have gone in and everyone would be heroes.
“But last night, unfortunately, things didn’t go our way and so we were stuck with a point.
“I was probably more disappointed with the second half performance, I thought the first half was reasonable, but in the second we faded badly, perhaps it had something to do with our fitness.”
Commenting on Sabah’s next match, Gary said, “I don’t think there’ll be any change in the team as to who were in the squad last night”.
“I think an away game, with the short time frame between the two games, I think it’s important, because of our fitness levels, that we bring some freshness to the team.
“There won’t be any change to our structure, our shape, our tactics, really.
I want to continue in the same chain of thought that we have been working for until we all get a better understanding of it. And then when I’m happy in that area we can maybe become a little bit more tactically flexible,” added Phillips.