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 Sports

Jelius: We still took a point off Felda

16th April, 2018

By UMESH RAJAN

KOTA KINABALU: Head coach Jelius Ating was relieved to see his Sabah Rhinos side settle for a point despite not in their best shape against Felda United in a Premier League tie on Saturday.

The coach was also happy to see his team remain unbeaten following the one-all draw against the runaway league leaders at the Likas Stadium.

However, the dropped points saw Sabah Rhinos slip to third on 13 points with their superior goals difference keeping Felcra FC, who have similar points, fourth in the 12-team table.

They were pipped by neighbouring Sarawak from the second spot, who edged UKM FC in Kuching. Sarawak collected 14 points after seven matches into the season.

“Overall I’m happy with the team’s performance. It is only a draw but we were up against Felda who were supposed to play in the Super League.

“We nearly got the better of Felda on the night. If you look at the match, we created many chances and all the more we were more dangerous (chances) than that of Felda.

“In fact, Felda got their goal not from a smooth team movement but from our own mistake. It was a weakness from our players, that I have to admit,” said Jelius in a post-match interview with the reporters.

“But overall, I have to praise the players. They tried their best to win the game despite a goal down. It ended in a draw but what’s important was that we did not lose at home or lose all the points in a home fixture.

When asked on his decision to replace Heo Jaenyeong with youngster Randy Baruh @ Samson after 19 minutes of play, Jelius said his Korean midfielder had to be taken out due to a right knee injury after being knocked from behind by a Felda United player early in the game.

The change forced Jelius to switch Sabah Rhinos’ formation from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 which contributed to a much-improved performance from the homesters.

“Injury forced the substitution rather than tactical. Heo had a similar injury last year so he had asked to be taken off.

“However, Randy (Baruh) was brought on for Heo and that is why we reverted to a four-man defence, with Mafry (Balang) filling in for Heo in midfield.

“We have planned and prepared for this in training and that showed that we can rely on any of the players including the locals to carry out their task on the field.

“Mafry did well when asked to play as a defensive midfielder … I have to praise him for that,” he said. Jelius admitted that Felda’s opener from Iain Ramsay’s 10th-minute strike was a bad mistake but the team has to learn and move on from the incident.

Captain Rawilson Batuil’s weak back pass allowed Ramsay to steal the ball and fired past goalkeeper Robson Rendy Rining.

Jelius said he had talked to Rawilson about the incident but he was quick to point fatigue could have led to some of the players to their focus and sharpness in the game.

“Some of the players were not at the best tonight. They lacked focus…one of the reasons could be that they were tired, especially after 70 or 80 minutes.

“This is the areas that we will try to improve in training and hopefully we will be better when we returned to league action.

Next, Sabah Rhinos will play consecutive away matches against UKM FC on April 24 and Penang on April 28.

   
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