Sabah suffered its first home defeat after being beaten 0-1 by Johor FC at the Likas Stadium here last night.
Despite numerous chances at goal the home team could not break through their visitor’s defences.
The solitary goal was netter in the 55th minute by Mohd Riduwan Ma’on, who intercepted a defensive ball before sending Azizon Abdul Kadir the wrong way ina one-on-one situation.
Sabah started the game in low gear but found their first scoring opportunity just 15 minutes into the match with a strike by Shahrul Azhar Ture. Unfortunately his shot from the edge of the box hit the cross bar before going out of play.
Johor FC also had several first half attempts including one from Rezal Zambery Yahya who fired a shot at goal in the 18th minute.
Both teams started the second half with a bit more fluidity with various offensive moves which tested the goalies at either end of the rain-free field.
Reithauddin Awang Embran was the first to try and create some brilliance.
His 48th minute header, which was fed from the corner by Shahrul failed to hit the target despite him being just feet away from the goal mouth.
Johor FC had their share of control over the game with some strong possession in midfield but their defensive tactic prevented them from making advances in search for the additional goal.
Midway through the second half, Sabah coach and manager, Gary Phillips tried turning on the heat by injecting Alto Linus and Radzi Mohd Hussin.
But the double substitution failed to bring the desired results.
Later in the 74th minute, Reithauddin, who captained the home squad, found another opportunity at goal but again failed to find any luck when his header fell inches away from the goal.
Sabah found some domination five minutes later and created several minutes of excitement for the 5,000 odd fans that turned up, but their efforts unfortunately went to no avail.
Towards the end Shahrul brought the home supporters to their feet with an amazing opportunity to score but the flanker failed to keep his composure (perhaps under pressure from an ensuing defender) and could not come up with a more elegant finish.
The result clearly came as a disappointment for the Sabah faithfulÉnonetheless it is still just the start of the season and there will be many more opportunities for Sabah to make amends.
Sabah will face Negeri Sembilan next in an away match on February 26.
Selangor 3 – 2 Terengganu
KL 0 – 2 Kelantan
Kedah 0 – 0 Perak
Negri Sembilan 0 – 2 KL Felda
Harimau Muda 1 – 1 Perlis
Pahang 1 – 0 Terengganu PBDKT