The Borneo Derby of the Malaysia Super League ended with the Crocs winning 1-0 in front of an empty Sarawak State Stadium due to the ban imposed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Visiting Sabah adapted faster to the wet pitch as they mounted several attacks on the Sarawak goal. Their efforts however were easily thwarted by the Sarawak defence lead by goalkeeper Saiful Amar Sudar.
As the game progressed, Sarawak regrouped and started launching attacks through influential midfielder Guy Bwele. This caused the Sabahans to defend as Sarawak made sure every room available in the Sabahan side was manipulated with dangerous passes.
Ashri Chuchu and Rashid Aya ensured the flanks were alive as they tried to penetrate the concrete like Sabah defence. The pressure exerted by the Sarawakian side caused the Sabahans to create numerous fouls, resulting in several free kicks and corners.
In the 17th minute, Guy came close to putting the Crocs a goal ahead, but his free kick only managed to hit the side of the net. This was followed by several corners, but the one in the 22nd minute by Ashri gave the crowd outside the stadium a huge reason to cheer.
A wonderful in-swinger corner by Ashri was neatly headed in by Joel Epalle, hence putting the Crocs a goal in front. Sarawak pushed harder for another goal, but the Sabah stood firm.
In the 41st minute, Brenden Gan almost equalized for Sabah, but he ballooned a one on one situation, ensuring Sarawak the lead at half time.
The restart of the game saw Sarawak trying to increase their goal tally. However, Justin Ganai’s men disturbed Sarawak’s momentum with hard tackles on several key players of the home team resulting in Robert Alberts removing Joel and Zamri whom were contatnt victims of such incidents.
Sabah started to move forward as they implemented wide passes to Brendan Gan and Zainizam Marjan, but each effort they had was easily foiled by Saiful and his four defenders whom were on top form.
The visiting team continued to push for the equalizer and came close to doing so through a header by Ronnie Harrun which sailed over the bar. Another effort by the visiting team also failed to hit the back of the net when a corner kick was cleared right before it could be kicked in by one awaiting Sabahan striker.
Sabah pressed harder to find the equalizer, but soon found out that there was little they could do to prevent Sarawak from grabbing the full 3 points.
The win puts Sarawak at eight in the league with 22 points.
Final score: Sarawak 1-0 Sabah
Photo above by Dunia Sukan.