Sabah must address goal-scoring woes!
KOTA KINABALU: Goal-shy Sabah better solve their goal-scoring woes the sooner the better, or they could be left ruing their act at the end of the season.
The team has been squandering their chances not in just one game, but it has been happening over and over again with the latest one being against arch rivals Sarawak on Friday.
Sabah coach and manager Gary Phillips was left frustrated as he saw his charges miss at least half a dozen opportunities.
Even the ever supportive Sabah FA Honorary Treasurer AR Haji Shahriman Abdullah, who was with the team in Kuching, was seen shaking his head in disbelief as Razlan Oto, Bobby Gonzales and Radzi Mohd Hussin missed the chances presented to them.
And the team was paying the price for not taking their chances well as Sarawak notched their first win of the season after registering a 2-0 victory in the Premier League Borneo Derby clash.
They must realise that no matter how good and well they play, but the bottom line is a team will not win a game if they don’t score!
“It is very frustrating,” said Gary when approached by the New Sabah Times Sports yesterday.
The Australian is pondering what could be the root of the problem as the team has done enough in creating chances. The poor refereeing by the match official did not help Sabah’s cause either.
Against Sarawak, Sabah created at least half a dozen chances, including four sure-goal (one-on-one) opportunities at the very least while Sarawak had three and scored twice.
Razlan had at least three chances at his mercy with the best in the 74th minute when he was found unmarked at the far post by Billyton Vun Ket Ming’s free-kick.
Unfortunately, Razlan’s header from inside the six-yard box went wide.
Then in the 76th minute, his close range effort was blocked by the Sarawak keeper M. Suffian.
Earlier on, Razlan had squandered another chance, when his half volley from inside the box sailed over the cross bar.
Bobby was presented with at least two chances, with the best one came in the 35th minute. He only had the keeper to beat, by the former national Under-23 striker fumbled before he could take a shot at goal.
It was barely a minute later that Radzi could have put Sabah into the lead when he was fed by Razlan. Unfortunately, despite having only the keeper to beat, his attempt went wide although the keeper was already beaten.
Shahrul Azhar Ture was also presented with half chances twice in the game, but he failed to turn them into goals.
Gary said he will bring back the suspended Mohd Farid Ideris into the team for their next game against USM FC at home on March 12.
And Gary is hoping that Zainizam Marjan will be fit enough to make it into the squad.
“We missed both Farid (Ideris) and Zainizam,” Gary said, adding that if the duo were around, they could have made a big difference.
The problem may prompt Gary to submit a request to the team management in looking for a prolific striker during the transfer window, likely to be end of April or early May.
He admitted that if the problem continues it will leave him with no other alternative than looking for a new striker to compliment what he already has.
Gary also reiterated that the many breaks in the Premier League are one factor that distracted their challenge. He said that you cannot find a league having so many breaks in the whole world.
Meanwhile, Sarawak coach Hj Mohd Zaki concurred with Gary that having too many breaks in the Premier League fixtures will only make their life more difficult.
The former national assistant coach added that he found it almost impossible to keep the team remaining competitive.
The breaks, he said is like forcing them to prepare the team from scratch over and over again, and it certainly does not go well with the team or even the league as the competitiveness of the competition will be dropped if teams are not playing their best.
“It is very difficult for coaches. We have to prepare the team over and over again … in terms of fitness and match fitness. It is also difficult to keep the momentum of the team. Hopefully the FA of Malaysia will look into this,” said Mohd Zaki.
On Sarawak’s victory, Mohd Zaki said that it has given him a bit of a relief after failing to win a single match in their last six outings.
Mohd Zaki admitted they did not create any chances in the first half. “We did not play well in the first half, but after the break, I think we looked much better. We created a few chances and managed to score two.
“This win will help lift the confidence in the team, and I hope it will give them the belief that we do can win matches,” said Mohd Zaki.
The tie was Sabah’s first game in three weeks. They would take on USM FC at home on March 12 before travelling to Melaka on March 15.
Upon their return, Sabah will take a rest again as the Premier League is taking another break, albeit this time it will be a little bit longer – a month.
Sabah would resume their campaign by playing POS Malaysia at home on April 16.