SINGAPORE: Gary Phillips powered Sabah to their third victory in their Singapore tour here by defeating an amateur side known as BI 2-0 at the Marsiling Secondary School in Woodlands.
The Sabah head coach and manager played the full 90 minutes as he led by example all the way.
He marshaled the team’s backline together with stand-in skipper Rosdin Wasli, with Jeremy Matthew Danker at right-back, and Julamri Muhammad on the left side.
While it was a surprising move by the Aussie, but it was a positive and good one too, as he showed his charges the way how the game should be played … the way he wants them to play it.
It could have been a goals’ galore day for the State side, but poor finishing denied them.
However, a goal each from Zainizam Marjan and Mohd Safuan Ibrahim was enough for Sabah to see off their hapless opponents that eventually saw them notch their third win here after the 2-0 victory over Singapore Cricket Club in their first game, followed by the comfortable 3-0 victory against S-League outfit Seng Kang Punggol FC.
Sabah created numerous chances in the opening 45 minutes but the striking pair of Zainizam Marjan and Mohd Farid Ideris, who both just recuperated from minor injuries, failed to find the net.
Zainizam was close to putting his side in the lead, but unfortunately his attempt from just outside the box went over the bar.
Sabah were also denied a penalty late in the first half when Farid was brought down. However, the match official decided otherwise and waved play on.
The game remained deadlocked at 0-0 at half time.
But later in the second half, Sabah were not to be denied the lead when Zainizam cleverly curled the opener from inside the box 10 minutes after play resumed.
The striker finished off a pass from K. Thanaraj, who found him unmarked in front of the opponent’s penalty box.
Then Thanaraj also played a role in Sabah’s second goal as Safuan headed in his corner kick about 12 minutes later.
However, he squandered a golden opportunity to extend Sabah’s lead as despite only having the goalkeeper to beat, his close range shot was blocked by the opponent’s custodian, resulting in a fruitless corner.
Late on, Razlan Oto saw his attempt hit the goalpost.
While the tie against the amateur side looked rather easy, but Sabah, who will be making their return to the Super League next season, will face their first real test when they take on Singapore Armed Forces, who finished fourth in the S-League last season, in their final tie today.
This is one reason why Gary rested his best defenders, as he wants them fresh for the Armed Forces clash.