Time: 4.40 pm
Venue:Stadium Negeri, Kuching
Scorer: Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak (19th)
Match Report/Analysis and Players Ratings:
Despite a 25 minute delay due to some technical issues, the much anticipated opening match got underway at 4.40 pm. A hiccup with registration of some players from both side resulted in the barring of the home team Korean import, Kim Chi Gon and Benedict Martin for Sarawak and all four foreign imports of Maccera Kuantan FC. Home team Head Coach was also barred from sitting at the players bench by the Match Commissioner, E. Genepathy.
Sarawak started with a 4-3-3 formation, with Iqbal in goal, the defence comprising of fullbacks, Dzulazlan at rightback and Sabree Abu on the left. Captain Hairol Mokhtar partner with Mazwandi in central defence. The midfield trio comprising of Milos, Nebo and Alif, while the forward line was Matteo, Bobby and Rahim.
Meanwhile, visitors Kuantan had to reshuffle their starting eleven with the absent of all their 4 foreign imports. Some notable players were defender Daudsu Jamaluddin, captain Abdul Ghani Rahman, striker Abdul Manaf Mamat and ex- Harimau B player, Azrul Nizam Muhd. There were only 3 players on their bench including the reserve goalkeeper.
1st half Analysis:
Sarawak started well with some good moves by the forwards with Alif making the first attempt at goal which flew over the Kuantan goal. A header by Hairol from a corner also went over the bar. Sarawak continued to press the Kuantan goal but was easily thwarted by the Kuantan defenders. The visitors initially struggled to match the home team control in midfield but gradually settled down as both sides made attacking moves.
Finally, in the 18th minute, Sarawak open the scoring . A through pass by Matteo, Rahim broke free from the right to beat onrushing goalkeeper Ashraf in the Kuantan goal. Both sides continued to make notable runs but failed to score. A foul by Milos in a midfield tussle resulted in the referee brandishing him a yellow card in the 31st minute.
Most of Kuantan attacks were easily cut off by Hairol and Mazwandi as they struggled to penetrate the Sarawak goal. Both Bobby (2) and Nebo made further attempts at the Kuantan goal. Sarawak attacks were mostly on the right with both Rahim and Dzulazlan making life difficult for the opposing fullback, Azrul Nizam. Despite that, the score remained 1-0 until half time.
Sarawak – 7
Kuantan – 1
Sarawak – 2
Kuantan – 7
Sarawak –Milos (31min)
The 2nd half started with Kuantan making an early change by bringing in Mohd Hafizi in attack. The substitution resulted in more attacking play by the visitors with Hafizi creating havoc on the right. Sabree Abu was beaten a couple of times by Hafizi with Daudsu making overlapping runs to support him.
The match became more exciting as both sides threatened each other goalmouth. Matteo Roskam made 4 attempts at the Kuantan goal with 2 of them being saved by keeper Ashraf. Ashraf also had to make a save from a shot by Milos. Kuantan made another substitution by bringing in veteran Zairul Fitri Ishak .
A Kuantan player was flashed a yellow card in the 70th minutes for committing a foul on Alif. Sarawak made 2 substitution, with Hafiz Abu Bakar replacing Bobby in the 80th minute and Muzaimir for Alif a minute later.
A tired Sabree Abu was also replaced late in the match by Ramesh. With the referee awarding injury time of 3 minutes, the home team slowed down the game and held on until the final whistle.
Sarawak – 5
Kuantan – 4
Sarawak – 3
Kuantan – 4
Kuantan – 5
Kuantan –1 (70min)
21-Iqbal Suhaimi (6) – Had a quiet game. Had to make only 2 saves throughout the entire match.
13 – Dzulazlan Ibrahim(7) – Had a solid game at right-back. Was adventurous with his overlapping runs on the right, ably supporting Rahim in attack.
3- Sabree Abu (6) – was solid in the first half but probably due to tiredness, was a bit slack in the 2nd.
He was constantly pressed by the Kuantan players on the left which limited his attacking run on the left.
16- Mazwandi Zekaria(8) – was impressive in central defence. A last minute replacement for Korean defender, Kim Chi Gon, he combines well with captain Hairol to thwart the Kuantan attackers. Fast and constantly first in making tackles.
17- Hairol Mokhtar (7)- Defendable central defender. Gels well with his partner, Mazwandi. Reads and organise his defence line well.
5- Milos Raickovic (6) – initially struggled to stamp his authority as defensive midfielder. Improved in the 2nd half, as the match progress. Had one attempt at opponent goal in the 2nd half. Received a yellow card for a late tackle in the 31st minute.
10- Nebo Marinkovic (7) – had a good game in central midfield. Mostly spraying long range passes to the forwards. However, lacks in making attempts at goal.
26- Alif Hassan (6) – the 3rd midfielder had a poor game to his standards. Struggled at times to support his fellow midfielders. Needs to improve on his positioning and overall gameplay. Made 2 attempts at goal.
19- Bobby Gonzales (7) – The veteran, despite his age, showed glimpse of his former self. Had a shot at goal saved in the first half and another in the 2nd. Supports the attacked well on the left with his skilful touches, making one- two passess with Matteo.
11- Abdul Rahim (7.5) –sole goalscorer. Made some darting runs on the right. His weakness is that he tends to cross blindly. Should improve further as the season progress.
9- Matteo Roskam (8.5) – Had a great game up front. A good target man and set up Rahim for the solitary goal. Had 5 shots at goal, 2 of which was on target but saved by the opposing keeper. Also help- out the defence during corner kicks. Was caught outside twice.
Despite playing under difficult conditions (technical/weather), overall the players perform well in the opening match of the season. Without the head coach on the bench, the players was able to play according to his game-plan. The 11 players on the field know their responsibilities and supported each other. The midfield trio combines well, while the defence was outstanding in keeping their opponents at bay. The forwards despite failing to increase the score-line also had a decent performance.
Coach Ian chose a 4-3-3 formation which was suitable against a depleted opponent. The fullbacks also did well to support the attacks, while both centre-backs were commanding.
Playing against an all local opponent, the home team should have taken advantage of the situation to score more goals. However, the forward line was lacking in some sort as they fail to capitalise on the numerous chances created. 12 attempts at goal but one was successful. At times, the midfielders were also slow to support the forwards. A number of times, Rahim were seen advancing on the right wing at full speed but his crosses found no one in the middle. Matteo Roskam was often left on his own up front and he had to hold the ball while waiting for support.
Another factor is that, set pieces were often wasted. Corners (5) and free-kicks (11) come to nought. Hopefully Head Coach, Ian canidentify the short comings and focus to improvise on the set pieces during training.
With the next match on Monday against Terengganu II away, the coach have only 2 days to ensure that the players recovers sufficiently and ready for their next opponent.
By: Matop SSB