by Ting Tieng Hee,theborneopost
KUCHING: A first-half double by Armed Forces striker V. Saravanan and another goal by Muhd Syafiq Abd Samad in the second handed Sarawak their first home defeat in the Malaysian Premier League this season.
Played at Sarawak Stadium in front of a 3,000-odd crowd, Sarawak started promisingly in the first 30 minutes but the shots at Armed Forces’ goal were always off the target.
Saravanan struck in the 36th and 42nd minutes to give the visitors a 2-0 lead while Syafiq wrapped up all three points for his team with a goal in the 86th minute.
The home supporters vented their frustration and anger at their team’s inability to score by cheering the visitors each time they went ahead.
Sarawak coach Mohamad Zaki Shaikh Ahmad, speaking to the media after the match, said although Sarawak created a lot of chances, the forwards were unable to convert any of them.
“Starting from the first whistle until the 33rd minute, our boys created chance after chance and even on one-on-one or one-two situations but unfortunately they just could not score,” he said.
“Congratulations to ATM (Armed Forces). They have taken their chances well,” he added.
According to Zaki, the outcome of the match could have been different if Sarawak had scored first from the many chances that they had created in the earlier part of the game.
“The pressure would not have been on us if we scored first but we conceded the first two goals due to defensive errors,” he added.
Armed Forces coach Zulhamizan Zakariah agreed with Zaki’s view, saying that the team that capitalised on the chances which came their way won the game.
“I must congratulate my boys on the win … we have taken the chances well to get all three points. It was a balanced fight and Sarawak gave us a good fight,” he said. Zulhamizan was also delighted with Saravanan’s performance, saying that the striker had played his part very well.
“Saravanan was substituted in the second half because he suffered a hamstring injury,” he said when asked why the striker was taken off ten minutes after the breather.
With the 3-0 win, Armed Forces are now in fifth place in the table standings while Sarawak are still second from bottom after five games with only two points from two draws and three defeats.
Their next game will be against Pulau Pinang in a FA Cup first round, first leg encounter at Batu Kawan Stadium on Feb 2.
The return leg at Sarawak Stadium will be played on Feb 6.