KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s finishing touch still needs some polishing as it remains to be their weakest link! This is a fact that Sabah head coach cum team manager Gary Phillips cannot deny at least for now.
In their recent game, it was another episode of missed chances as the night saw Sabah squandering at least half a dozen goalscoring opportunities.
And no wonder Gary could barely raise a smile despite seeing his side notch their third straight victory in the Premier League.
Gary knows pretty well that their scoring woes are far from over!
“We could have sealed the game at half time,” Gary recalls.
“Even when we were leading 1-0, we still created a few more chances and could have won the match with a bigger scoreline,” he said, before adding it could have ended 6-0.
They defeated Shahzan Muda 1-0, which is their second consecutive victory on the road after the win over Armed Forces, which also ended in an identical scoreline.
Prior to the Shahzan Muda clash, Sabah notched their biggest win thus far this season by trouncing Johor MP Muar 4-0 in a home tie.
It took Sabah more than an hour before they finally found the much-needed goal with striker Razlan Oto nodding home the winning goal with 15 minutes or so remaining on the clock.
“So it was disappointing,” Gary lamented, an indication that the team’s poor finishing is still the main thing that is still troubling the Aussie.
But understandably, it is hard for him to be critical with his side despite the poor finishing as he was pleased with the overall performance of the team.
And furthermore, three points is all that matters on the night.
“Whether we win big or by a slim margin it is not important, because it is still three points.
“It was a massive six points on the road,” said Gary.
However, he admitted they cannot afford to squander scoring opportunities game after game.
Sabah’s blunt attack is not something new as we have witnessed the team’s lack of sting up front being one of their glaring weaknesses in the last couple of seasons.
But on a positive note, the players seem to be slowly coping and adapting well to Gary’s approach as the team is now on the rise and they have improved from game to game.
The three points gained from the Shahzan Muda game saw Sabah remain in fifth in the 12-team standings on 10 points – six points behind joint leaders KL Felda United FC and Selangor PKNS, who are separated by goals scored.
Harimau Muda is third on 14 points followed by Armed Forces, a point ahead of Sabah.
Sixth placed Police is closely behind on nine points.
The bottom half of the table see KL Pos Malaysia occupying the seventh spot on six points while Melaka, Shahzan Muda and Penang USM FC are level on four points, but separated by inferior goal difference.
Sarawak and Johor MP Muar languish at the bottom two with three and two points respectively.
With five matches remaining in the first round, Sabah had better start showing their scoring prowess to stand any chance of finishing the round one among at least the top four in the standings.
The Premier League is now taking a three-week break and would resume on March 5 with Sabah playing away to Sarawak.