The Borneo Derby is set to happen in an empty stadium, and the winner will see them catapult themselves above the looser in the Malaysia Super League (MSL).
Sabah come with a record of defeating the Crocs in Likas in the first leg, and they would be eager to repeat such a feat in Sarawak’s home ground in Kuching.
For this match, Justin Ganai is expected to field a formidable squad with the midfield of Sabah looking strong with German Hendrik Helmke and Australian Brendan Gan. Brendan has scored once so far, but local boy Shahrudin bin Yakup is Sabah’s ‘secret weapon’ with six goals to date.
The team known as Sabahawks however have not been impressive away from home as they are still looking for their first away win. They have however held most teams when playing away, and this includes the likes of Perak and Negeri Sembilan.
Sarawak on the other hand is a wounded team with out-field event taking a toll on their confidence. The four match ‘fan ban’ by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has struck the Crocs deep in their hearts and this was evident when the team failed to win against the less illustrious Kuala Lumpur.
The game against Sabah only adds salt to Robert Alberts men as they would have to face a rival whom they badly need to beat to secure back their fan base.
As always, Alberts will be looking at Guy Bwele and Joel Epalle to push his boys for the win, but he will also be emphasising on local talents like Zamri Morshidi and Ashri Chuchu whom are more prone to misfire their chances.
Joel scored his debut goal against Kuala Lumpur, but he too proved toothless despite countless chances. The sturdy defence of the Crocs has also let the team down with easy mistakes, and the absence of suspended Hairol Mokhtar would certainly influence Sarawak’s defence line.
The Borneo Derby would be an interesting affair as both teams are now tied in terms of points in the MSL. Sabah will be looking to further dent the Crocs low morale, as the Crocs would be eager to prove to FAM that the off-field events have not effected them as much as intended.
With that said, we feel that the Crocs will share the spoils, and a draw seems very much possible.
Prediction: Sarawak 2 – 2 Sabah.