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End of the road

14th February, 2020


KOTA KINABALU: It is the end of the road for Sabah in the East Java Governor’s Cup challenge after succumbing to their second consecutive defeat.

They were blanked 2-0 by Persija Jakarta in an early match at the Kanjuruhan Stadium, in Malang, yesterday. They also lost by an identical scoreline to Arema FC in their first game on Tuesday.

With the latest defeat, it is almost impossible for Sabah to make a top-two finish in the four-team Group B with a match to play.

In fact, this was their third defeat in their on-going pre-season tour to Indonesia.

Prior to competing in the competition, they kick started their tour with a 3-1 defeat to Persebaya Surabaya in an international club friendly, last Saturday (Feb 8).

Against Persija Jakarta, Sabah head coach, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto opted for a formation change by playing with a 4-4-2 system instead of 4-3-3 that they used in their previous matches.

However, despite having better possession especially in the opening half they failed to get the better of their opponents.

New signing, Dennis Buschening was presented with two chances early in the tie but failed to find the back of the opponents’ net.

Persija’s first attempt came in the 33rd minute, but Sabah’s custodian, Wan Muhammad Azraie bin Wan Teh was alert enough to palm away an effort from Alfath Faathier.

Two minutes later, Persija were not to be denied from taking the lead as Marco Simic blasted home a grounder from the spot that defeated the hapless Wan Muhammad Azraie.

Persija were awarded the spot kick after defender, Evan Wensley Wenceslaus was caught for handball inside the penalty box.

In the 52nd minute, Rohit Chand made it 2-0 for his side by finishing off a superb cross from Simic.

At the hour mark, second-half substitute, Ariusdius Jais almost reduced the deficit for Sabah, but his attempt from just outside the box was palmed away by the Persija custodian, Andritany Ardhiyasa.

Then Md Azwan Abd Fattah saw his well-taken freekick go wide before Simic squandered a golden opportunity to extend their lead.

He only had Wan Muhammad Azraie to beat, only see his shot sail above the crossbar.

Sabah will conclude their campaign by taking on Persela Lamongan at the same venue on Saturday (Feb 15).

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