Kota Kinabalu: Sabah’s hopes of a winning start in its home match was spoilt by KL Felda United on Monday night when they were soundly beaten 1-3 in the Premier League tie at the Likas Stadium in front of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and about 6,000 fans.
The bold move by coach Milomir Seslija to start the match with youngster Maxsius Musa and Sabri Sahar seemed to pay off as Farid Ideris had the first look at goal in the sixth minute after being put through by Rozaimi Abd Rahman but his shot was too weak and was easily saved by Felda’s keeper Mohd Farizal Harun.
Both teams started aggressively and it was an evenly matched encounter as the attacks switched from one end to the other. Sabah had the breakthrough after Rozaimi collected a loose ball from 30 metres before making his way into the box from the right and drew first blood with a stiff grounder to the roar of the crowd.
Sabah held the upper hand after the goal but failed to take the opportunity to increase their lead and Rozami had another chance to grab his second after a lay off from Maxsius put him through on goal but his shot was blocked by the desperate Felda defence.
The miss proved costly as Felda were given a golden chance deep in first half injury time after a foul was committed by Reithudin Emran about 25 metres from the goal and Felda’s Zah Rahan Krangar executed a beautiful free kick that flew past the defensive wall and into the empty net off the left post.
Barely five minutes after the restart, the visitors took the lead after poor defending by the Sabah defence allowed Edward Wilson the time and space to smash home from close range.
Any chance of a comeback was cut short in the 77th minute and again it was a mistake in the defence when they failed to clear the ball and Zah Rahan had a clear shot that hit the crossbar and rebounded onto the path of Edward Wilson and the burly striker struck his second of the match.
Milomir will have his hands full after the defeat as Sabah will next take on Kelantan in the FA Cup second round on Feb 4 followed by another tough match against PDRM away in the league on Feb 7.
Meanwhile, the Sabah reserves also lost when they were beaten by Pahang 2-1 in their opening game of the season in Kuantan on Monday afternoon.
Head coach Burhan Ajui said it was an evenly contested match and both teams had the chance to take the three points and he blamed loss of concentration by the players which resulted in the defeat.
He said they started well and took the early lead in the 33rd minute through Jenius Karib but somehow the players failed to maintain their focus and conceded the first goal after Hafizan Jahar lost possession in the opponents’ half and a quick counter attack saw them netting the equaliser and the second goal was conceded right at the end of the second half.
The team will stay put in the Peninsula and will travel to Johor for their next match against JDT on Thursday.