Sabah crowned champs
Published on: Wednesday, July 10, 2019
By: GL Oh

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tambadaus proved they are the best team in the Premier League this season by winning the title with two matches to spare after a come from behind 2-1 win over UiTM at UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam on Tuesday night.

Sabah needed three points at the start to seal the title regardless of second place JDT II’s result with Negeri Sembilan, which eventually proved unfounded after Negeri Sembilan came away with a 3-1 home win.

Watched by Sabah Football Association (Safa) acting President Datuk Peter Anthony from the stands, the players started the match strongly and pinned the home side in their own half in search of an early goal.

They created many scoring opportunities but their finishing was poor with Aguinaldo Mendes shooting over the bar in the 12th minute while Alto Linus missed the best opportunity in the 28th minute when he broke free inside the box and with only the goalkeeper to beat, he shot the side netting instead.

They almost took the lead four minutes later, when Rodoljub Paunovic was brought down just outside the box. He took the free kick himself but saw his shot hit the crossbar and subsequently put out of danger by the home side.

The early miss proved costly for Sabah as a quick counter by UiTM saw Mafry Balang punished for a foul on Park Yongjun at the edge of the box in the 29th minute.

Skipper Žarko Korać who took the free kick made no mistake as he shot past the wall and into the back of the net with Rozaimie Rohim stranded on the ground.

UiTM continued their quick counter attacking strategy in the second half and they almost went two up within five minutes of the restart, if not for a well timed tackle from skipper Rawilson Batuil who managed to clear the ball under the feet of Park Yongjun who was free on goal.

It was a great escape for Sabah and minutes later they equalised when Paunovic scored from the spot kick after they were awarded a penalty after a handball incident.

Sabah finally took the lead in the 67th minute when Mendes atoned for his earlier miss with a headed goal from a corner taken by Ricco Nigel Milus.

As the referee blew the final whistle, some of the players were on their knees with team officials and supporters in wild celebration inside the stadium.

The triumph was their first league title since they last lifted the old first division title back in 1996.

They will play Kelantan at home as newly crowned champions this Saturday (July 13) at Likas Stadium and end the season with an away match against Terengganu on July 20. 



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