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Early goal definitely helped: Ong
Published on: Saturday, December 02, 2023
By: GL Oh
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Early goal definitely helped: Ong
Darren (right) celebrates his goal with Park (centre) and Saddil.
Kota Kinabalu: The early first goal at the Jalan Besar Stadium proved crucial in Sabah FC’s 4-1 win over Hougang United FC in the return leg of their Group H AFC Cup tie on Thursday night.

Head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee said the own goal conceded by Naoki Kuriyama in the 16th minute when he tried to intercept a pass from Daniel Ting had put pressure on the home side.

“The early goal definitely helped us and it put a lot of pressure on Hougang. 

“Overall the players showed very good performance and the three points are more important than the amount of goals scored,” he said.

He also said the players were quick to cope with the wet condition after the restart when the match was temporarily suspended for 30 minutes following heavy downpour after the first goal.

‘There was a little adjustment we had to make after the restart as we couldn’t move the ball smoothly due to the waterlogged condition.

“But after 5-10 minutes, the players realised that instead of short passes, they opted to play long balls to suit the situation. It got us the goals that we wanted and that was very important,” he said.

Sabah FC’s second goal came from a spotkick converted by Darren Lok in the 45th minute after Miguel Ángel Garrido Cifuentes was fouled in the box.

Miguel was again involved in the third goal five minutes into the second half when Hougang United’s defence failed to deal with his cross cleanly and the ball fell to Ramon Machado who smashed home from close range.

The fourth was another own goal and this time, Anders Aplin in his desperate attempt to stop a cross from Rizal Ghazali ended up guiding the ball into his own net in the 77th minute.

Hougang United’s consolation goal only came in injury time with a strike from Gabriel Quak.

The win also ensured Sabah FC will finish top of Group H and qualified for the Asean Zone semi-final with a game to spare.

They have collected 12 points from five games and in second place are Hai Phong FC from Vietnam with seven points followed by Indonesian side PSM Makassar also with seven points while Hougang United are at the bottom with three points.

Sabah FC’s last match in the group stage is against PSM Makassar at home on December 14. 

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