Down but not out

source: New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah may be down but not out as they still have a fighting chance to make it into the last four of the Malaysia Cup challenge. However, their quest for glory is a mammoth task after the 2-1 first leg defeat to T-Team of Terengganu in the quarter-finals on Monday.

Having lost their battle on home ground, one wonders whether they have what it takes to get the better of their opponents away from home.

The only thing that comes into mind is that football is a funny old game and that anything can still happen as there are another 90 minutes to play.

Sabah Head Coach Justin Ganai said that they have given their level best that proved to be not good enough to get the desired result.

He even admitted that T-Team is a good side and a tough one to beat.

While not willing to point fingers for the defeat, Justin however revealed that two mistakes by his side cost them the game.

“We were giving them too much room to move freely. The two goals were due to that and it should not have happened.

On his decision to play second choice custodian Syed Adney Syed Hussien, Justin refused to comment.

“Well, there was a little bit of confusion at the back because he (keeper) just played in our last two games. Maybe there was some confusion, but I don’t think our defeat was due to that.

“He was doing great in training and the combination was also good. However, I admit that there was lack of instruction and less talking from him (keeper).

On the return leg on Friday, Justin said: “We have a few days of training and we will try to rectify our weaknesses.”

“When we look at the game, it was an equally contested tie. The only difference was they made full use of their chances where they scored twice. In fact, we created several chances, but we only managed to score once.

Justin said that he has yet to decide on his plan or strategy for the return leg.

“I will have to sit down with the coaching staff and will ask some of the seniors what we need to do for the return leg.”

On the other hand, T-Team Head Coach Yunus Alif said that having the advantage doesn’t mean that the semi-final ticket is already theirs.

“It is still not guaranteed. We must remain focused and although we have gained the advantage, but we must give 130 per cent in the return leg. There are another 90 minutes to play and Sabah will surely be going for the goals,” he said.

Yunus also concurred with Justin that it was an equally contested battle while adding that seeing his side scoring two goals away from home delighted him.

Former international Indra Putra Mahayuddin scored twice for T-Team netting the opener in the 34th minute before scoring the winner five minutes from time.

Sabah scored through Alto Linus in the 46th minute.

The only interesting note in the defeat for Sabah was the response from the public where almost 20,000 fans thronged the Likas Stadium to witness the tie giving an impression that football in the Land Below the Wind is pretty much still alive!!!

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