Kota Kinabalu: Sabah’s loss to the Young Lions in the Super League match last Saturday was a huge disappointment for Justin Ganai and the management team. Instead of giving a perfect present to their coach on Saturday who turned 56 a day earlier, the team lost 1-0 and the performances by some of the players really let the coach down.
Justin who was shouting out instructions at the top his lungs to the boys throughout the match was lost for words after the match.
Team Manager Hj Shariman Abdullah and his assistant Yahya Kassim were also in sombre mood and had deep discussions among themselves in the changing room.
The majority of the 10,000 strong crowd that flooded the Likas Stadium were also left disappointed by the result.
Nobody would have predicted that the team would lose the match as on paper Sabah had stood a very good chance of defeating the young Republic team who were handicapped by injuries and suspension to a few of their key players.
The home team meanwhile, were in high spirit after an impressive performance against table topping T-Team in their away game played days earlier, while the young Lions struggled to beat a weak Kuala Lumpur team 2-1 at home.
The match started with the visiting team taking the initiative to attack Sabah’s half. Without any notable strikers in the team, Sabah were in no danger of conceding a goal until the 20th minute when the Young Lions were given a free kick at the right flank.
The free kick could have been avoided if only captain Reithuddin Emran did not lose his cool and decided to kick Yasir Hanapi while he was on the ground after the ball was already out of play.
The clinically taken header by Hariss Harun from Shahdan Sulaiman’s free kick proved to be decisive in the heated match.
Hariss was given a free header in the box that rebounded off Mafry Balang and into the net with Sabah custodian Azizon Abd Kadir stranded on the ground.
The goal woke the Sabah players up and they responded almost immediately with K.Thanaraj’s free-kick just whizzing over the crossbar, before Michael Baird ‘s shot was denied by Isa Halim with a block.
Both teams were soon reduced to ten men after both Mafry and Irwan Shah received red cards for an off the ball incident.
The home team were in total control of the match but they just could not penetrate the well organised Singapore defence.
Even on several occasions when they managed to have a shot at the Lions’ goal, in form keeper Izwan Mahbud was there to deny Sabah’s hopes of salvaging a point.
As a result of the loss, Sabah collected only four points from four matches played and are now in tenth place in the league with one win, one draw and two losses.