Kota Kinabalu: A new tactic and fresh legs proved effective in Sabah’s Premier League encounter against Melaka on Monday.
Sabah Head Coach and Manager, Gary Phillips deployed a team of fresh players on a new attacking strategy and the result was more than gratifying.
The team not only took home all three points but did it in high fashion by scoring six goals!
“I’m really happy for the players, they all worked really hard throughout the match. This will give us a lot of confidence,” said Gary.
He told reporters this when met at the Terminal Two airport up return from Melaka here, Tuesday.
According to Gary, the Sabah FA management was so impressed with the team’s victory that they decided to reward the winning squad with a bonus.
“The management is certainly very generous to give the players an incentive for Monday’s victory but I think finishing in third place at the end of the season would be better than getting a small bonus,” said Gary.
Farid Ideris was the first to get on the score sheet when he converted a spot kick after a Melaka player had mysteriously handled the ball inside the penalty area.
Shahrul Azhar Ture then added the second with a great individual effort before Bobby Gonzales netted another to make it 3-0 at half time.
“We knew at half time that the game was over. Melaka played a high defensive line, which made it easy for us to attack. Bobby scored another in the second half and Razlan Oto scored twice,” said Gary.
He said the team overall played really well on the night.
The formation system that Gary deployed was an alteration of the usual 4-4-2 that the team often played in previous matches.
Farid was in the main attacking position up front with Bobby in support slightly behind, while Shahrul and Alto Linus flanked in the wide positions.
Mohd Radzi Hussin and youngster Sabri Sahar played centre in midfield while the back four that provided a solid defence comprised Julamri Muhamad, Gasili Pengalot, Rosdin Wasli and stand-in captain Mafry Balang.
“Our defence was really solid. They basically set up the offence for us and repelled any efforts Melaka made to attack,” said Gary, adding that keeper Azizon Abdul Kadir did not have to do much during the match apart from directing players in front of him and making a save inside the first two minutes.
He was particularly impressed with how Mafry rose to the occasion after captain Reithauddin Awang Embran was left at home to serve a suspension.
Gary, however, wants to see how he might perform in midfield saying there was room for improvements in this area and that Mafry might be the one to advance and provide fluidness for the team.
But he may have to wait until later when a transfer opportunity arises to add one or two players to the squad to compensate for any voids created from moving key players around.