Ali Ashfaq of Police (no.7) celebrates after scoring a goal against Sime Darby in the Malaysia Cup football match last week.
GEORGE TOWN: Coach Ismail Zakaria blames the “first-game blues” for Sime Darby’s 3-0 capitulation to Police in their Malaysia Cup opening Group D match.
A brace from Ali Ashfaq and a strike by Bobby Gonzales in the opening 48 minutes led Premier League champions Police to a resounding victory over their Super League rivals on Thursday.
Ismail blamed his players for still being in holiday mood for the loss.
“Police scored their first two goals through counter-attacks because my players took it easy in the first half. After the long layoff, they had trouble getting into the right frame of mind and were surprised by Police’s aggressive start,” said Ismail on Friday.
“In the second half, we played much better and had 60% of the ball. By that time, we were already three goals down. To make things worse, we were toothless in attack and failed to convert our second half dominance into goals.”
Ismail, who led Sime Darby to an impressive fifth-place finish in the Super League, added that his midfielders and strikers should take the major portion of the blame for the defeat.
“My midfielders did not function in the opening half and gave too much space for Police to exploit.
“The forwards were also toothless. We created 12 scoring opportunities, but failed to put a single one into the Police net. Our main striker Mateo Roskam is still rusty, and needs more match time to regain his sharpness in front of goal.”
The 27-year-old Roskam missed the tail-end of Sime Darby’s Super League campaign after suffering a serious eye injury in April. The game against Police was the Croatian’s first competitive match in four months.
Ismail acknowledges that Sime Darby face a must-win situation when they take on T-Team in their next Group D tie in Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday.
Like Sime Darby, T-Team are also without a point after losing 2-1 to Selangor on Wednesday.
“There are only six games in the group stage, and it will be difficult to survive if we lose a second straight game. We have no choice but to bounce back against T-Team if we are to keep pace with Police and Selangor.
“The plus point is that we have some breathing space before the next match to iron out the weaknesses in our game. My biggest hope is that we can get the goals flowing again in Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday.”