KOTA KINABALU: Sabah coach and manager Gary Phillips is disappointed after seeing his side slip points from their grip in the two-all draw against Terengganu in a Malaysia Cup Group B tie at the Likas Stadium on Friday.
He insisted that they could have won the game, and clearly had more and better goal scoring chances than their opponents.
But Gary said this is football, and that anything can happen, and it can happen to any team in the world, before citing silly mistakes and giving away a silly penalty that has cost them the game.
But Gary is not all that mad for picking up one point in what could have been three points in the bag as he saw his side squander a two-goal lead with less than 20 minutes remaining in regulation time.
Instead he would rather take it as a lesson to learn from.
For instance, he said even a top side like Manchester United suffered this kind of setback, before pointing to Manchester United’s match against Everton where they scored two goals in injury time to eventually end the tie at three-all.
“The players are upset … but we can be proud of what we have done tonight because if you look back six months ago, we were at the bottom of the league.
“In the dressing room, Terengganu was celebrating the victory, but for us, it was like a funeral.
“And we must take the ‘setback’ positively, and now it is important for us not to make silly mistakes and concede silly penalties.
“They (Terengganu) are good at counter attack, because they are a good side. But the good thing is we are disappointed and the players are disappointed.
“They know they should have won the game. We clearly had better chances than them and deserved full points.
“And I’m a bit disappointed with the substitutes because they didn’t have the desired impact when they came in.
“Apart from that, everyone worked hard, and I thought Zainizam Marjan was outstanding although at times he didn’t get the support he needed.
“But we certainly need more depth in the squad if we are to compete for honours in the future. We need to bring in more quality … four or five more players.
“But (now) I’m proud of the boys because they have worked hard and have tried their best. They are a bit naive, but they tried to play football, and not just kicking long balls. Now maybe it is a bit tough to get their spirits up and restore their confidence. Anyway, now the focus will be on Pahang.
And Gary remains optimistic ahead of the clash against Pahang.
“It has been quite a while that we have not lost at home, and now we have managed to make people realise that this is a tough place to go. So it is important for us to keep up the pressure and keep in touch as I think the race for the two quarter-final spots will go down to the wire.”
Mohd Farid Ideris gave Sabah the lead with a simple tap-in goal on the stroke of half time before Zainizam Marjan scored the second with a header in the 54th minute.
But Terengganu scored twice in the space of five minutes, one from the spot with Abd Manaf Mamat defeating Azizon Abdul Kadir in the 73rd minute before second half substitute Firdaus Mohd Fauzi scored from close range to eventually put the scoreline on level terms.
Sabah’s next home game is against Pahang on Monday while Terengganu take on Kuala Lumpur.