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 Sports

Well-deserved point

6th August, 2018

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Rhinos made their return to Malaysia Cup action with a well-deserved point after holding reigning FA Cup champions Pahang 1-1 in a Group D tie at the Darul Makmur Stadium on Saturday.

The result achieves their pre-match target of wanting to take something out of the tie.

In fact, with a little bit of luck or rather, if they were more lethal in their finishing, the state side could have made a return on a winning note.

But Jelius Ating has no complains with the result. In fact, he was full of praise to see the spirited displays from his players, most of whom were making their M-Cup debut.

He said the determination and confidence showed by the players made it possible for them to make a good start to their campaign.

“I could not ask for more from the players. They carried out everything that was told and expected of them in the match,” the Sabah Rhinos head coach said when contacted yesterday.

“The determination, confidence, work rate and commitment were all there. We could have won with the chances that we created but a draw was not bad either, especially when we faced the Super League team who are also the reigning FA Cup champions,” he added.

He was also delighted to see that his charges showed no fear against a side with a reputation.

“They (the players) deserved to be given a pat on their back, but I want to remind them that this is just the beginning, and we shouldn’t be carried away by this good showing. We have to take it from here and put up a better show in our next game.

“All in all, I am happy…it was a good start to our campaign,” said Jelius.

According to him, it was quite an equally contested tie before adding that they created better scoring chances than their opponent.

Unfortunately, Jelius said their top striker Pito Ramos missed several chances including twice, in a one-on-one situation, in the first half while his late strike hit the post.

“Our strategy was to stay compact when defending and then attack with pace when we gained possession. “It worked well for us on the night but it was not easy against Pahang. However, we played well and I’m pleased with that. It was a good achievement despite returning home with only a point,” he said.

Sabah Rhinos fell behind to an Austin Amutu’s first-half stoppage time opener before Faisal Rosli’s, one of the two Pahang players trying to stop Puerto Rico forward Hector Ramos, own goal after diverting the ball into his own net in the first minute of the first half.

Meanwhile, PKNP FC is the surprise Group D leaders after opening with a stunning 3-0 away win over Selangor at the Shah Alam Stadium.

“PKNP’s win showed that they were no pushovers. This showed that the Malaysia Cup is totally a different ball game than league competition…no team can lay claim to being favourites in the M-Cup.

“I’ve told our players who played in the competition for the first time to take the opportunity to shine because anything can happen in a Cup competition,” said Jelius while reminding his charges to be ready for the PKNP FC visit at the Likas Stadium on August 11.

   
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