Kota Kinabalu: Sabah grabbed three valuable points by beating Kedah 2-1 at the Likas Stadium on Saturday night. It was a hard fought victory as Kedah put up a spirited display in the second half of the match.
It could have been an easy win if the home team did not miss a few sitters in the first half.
Kedah had the first shot on goal in the first minute.
Fortunately for Sabah, it shot high over the bar.
Sabah only asserted their authority in the 10th minute when Zainizam Mazlan was fouled just outside the box. Sharul Azhar Ture took the free kick and shot straight at the Kedah goalkeeper.
The home team played a fast attacking game thereafter and had the Kedah players backpeddling throughout.
However, their runs into the visiting half failed to penetrate Kedah’s defences as time and again, their defenders stood firm and managed to clear the danger.
It wasn’t until the 27th minute that Sabah made the breakthrough, when Sahrul Azahar Ture’s pass from close-range was met by a flying header from Zainizam which smashed into the net to put Sabah 1-0 up.
Kedah’s response was immediate as they broke through the Sabah defenders in the break but Captain Reithudin Emran was at the right place to save the team.
In the 33rd minute, Zainizam has the chance to put Sabah 2-0 up but his header went skyhigh right in front of the goal. When he was gifted a golden chance, Farid Ideris’ first timer was saved by the goalkeeper and the rebound went straight to him.
A minute later, Zuraindey Jumai had the crowd on their feet when he unleashed a shot which missed the Kedah goalpost by inches.
The second half started evenly with both teams fighting from one end to the other.
Sabah coach Justin Ganai showed his shrewdness as his introduction of K.Thanaraj paid dividends in the 76th minute.
The midfielder scored with his first touch when he received a pass from Razlan Oto as the midfielder scored with his first touch in the 77th minute when he had only replaced Julamri Muhd a minute earlier.
It was his first goal for Sabah team.
Sabah was a bit complacent after that which allowed Kedah to spring a fightback.
Kedah’s Mohd Azmi Muslim managed to pull one back in the 86th minute from a free kick to reduce the deficit..
With the goal, Sabah was under a lot pressure towards the end as Kedah pressed hard for an equaliser, but the Sabah players were able to withstand the pressure and won their first Malaysia cup campaign.
Sabah’s next match will be against Johor on September 13 in Likas Stadium.