KOTA KINABALU: It was only a glass of red wine for Sabah head coach and manager Gary Phillips despite seeing his side notching their first home win of the season as he refused to be drawn into the ‘celebration mood’ insisting that his side looked ‘flat’ throughout!
He said they could have won by more goals if they were more organised in their game, instead of the 4-0 scoreline, which is the team’s biggest win thus far after five matches into the season.
Gary said what he saw from his team was they made far too many unnecessary errors, which he said could have put them into a lot of trouble should they face stronger teams.
He insisted those silly and unwanted errors must be put to an end!
When met at the team’s light training at the field B in Likas yesterday, Gary said: “I’m very happy with the three points. The back to back win is very important for the team, but it was an unconvincing performance really.”
“They all looked flat and looked tired and I don’t know why. We didn’t do much this week. I have to question what they do with their spare time. Maybe it is better that we stay together more often so that we can monitor what they’re doing and what they’re eating.
“We expected to win but there was no real joy in the dressing room, I think because they all knew it was unconvincing.
Gary said he tried to spark things up by bringing in fresh legs at half time and late in the game, but it didn’t work its wonders except for the part (late) in the game where they gained two penalty kicks.
But Gary was impressed with the ‘man of the match’ performance from right back Mafry Balang.
“I think Mafry was outstanding. He set up the first two goals, and I’m very pleased with his performance. He defended well and led to the first two goals.
“The back five also defended quite well although at times their clearance was not what you had been expecting from them.
“I think it was good for Mohd Farid Ideris to get on the scoresheet, it did his confidence a world of good.
“And it was obviously good to see Zainizam back, he’s a quality player. There’s no doubt he’ll be pushing for a start on Tuesday night.
“Obviously, we hope that when you’re playing a team like Kedah, your motivation and concentration is going to be a lot higher and your quality has to be improved.
“It’s a massive challenge for us, I think it is a bit early for us but it’s here and we have to face it and do the best we can.
Gary said while looking at the Kedah game, he has one eye on their next Premier League away game against Shahzan Muda (Feb 12).
“So the result on Tuesday night will have a large bearing on the team I take away.
And Gary went on to express his frustration by saying: “at times in the game our combination and lead up play was very good, but for me there were far too many fundamental errors, the passing and the first touch. I think maybe it was because we had so much time and so much possession and that at times we forced things.
“It’s a good thing to try and make things happen but the decision making last night was very bad as well.
“So when your passing is bad, your first touch is bad, your decision making is bad, you just make things difficult for yourself and that was probably the most frustrating thing last night.
“We were playing against a team that was waiting to get beaten 10 nil. You could see their body language, their quality was poor. Even in the warm up I could see nothing that told me we were going to be under pressure.
“I know we were always going to win the game but it was just a matter of by how many goals. But as I said it was disappointing that we didn’t score at least eight goals.
“We only scored two penalties in the second half, and I think our performance faded, which is concerning, particularly playing at home, and having seven days break prior to the game.
“Maybe in hindsight, and hindsight’s always a winner. We probably could have done a bit more throughout the week rather than being a little bit more relaxed.
“But it was a good night to play MP Muar because had we played Kedah we would have got into serious trouble,” said Gary.
Having said all this, the Aussie insisted that his team will only get better with his sight focusing on two aspects – the team’s recovery and their psychology!
Alto Linus scored the opener for Sabah followed by Mohd Farid Ideris’ strike. Then Mohd Farid Saibun scored from the spot before Zainizam Marjan converted the team’s second spot kick.
The three points helped Sabah move to sixth in the 12-team standings on seven points – six points behind leaders KL Felda United FC.