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Saturday December 29, 2012

More than just a friendly

No quarter given: Harimau Muda A's Wan Zack Haikal (left) is challenged by Sarawak's Hairol Moktar. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star No quarter given: Harimau Muda A's Wan Zack Haikal (left) is challenged by Sarawak's Hairol Moktar. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star

KUCHING: It was only a friendly but some 12,000 fans turned up to watch Sarawak play Harimau Muda A at Stadium Negri, Petra Jaya, here.

When the final whistle was blown, the Young Tigers had put four goals past the commendable Crocs, who replied with two goals of their own, for a 4-2 scoreline.

The atmosphere was great and the Premier League side were in no mood for niceties as they kept the national Under-22 team on their toes last night.

Thirty seconds into the match, the hosts earned a throw-in followed by a goal in the 4th minute.

From deep, Cameroon playmaker Guy Bwele headed the ball to new Crocs signing Ivan Babic.

Croatian striker Babic placed the ball into fellow striker Bobby Gonzales’ path and the Sabahan coolly slotted home.

The Young Tigers came to life in the 11th minute when they won a free kick but the two-man Sarawak wall did its job well.

In the 15th minute, Mafry Balang, another of Sarawak’s Sabah signing, could have made it 2-0 but the defender failed to control the ball.

Two minutes later, Harimau Muda A threatened when Nazirul Naim Che Hashim squeezed in a shot which sailed over the bar.

Sarawak suffered a setback in the 27th minute when lively defender Dzulazlan Ibrahim had to come off due to a possible hamstring injury.

He was replaced by Hairol Moktar.

Just after play resumed from the injury delay, the visitors struck against the run of play.

Wan Zaharunizam received a pass to beat Bwele on the flanks with a low shot that Sarawak keeper Sani Anuar failed to stop.

Crocs midfielder Joseph Kalang Tie, who had a quiet game, broke through the defence just a minute after the goal but saw his shot go wide.

Mafry was careless as he lost the ball and he tried to win it back but received a yellow card for his eagerness.

Harimau Muda A, coached by former Sarawak player Ong Kim Swee, came back after the breather stronger as they forced a mistake from Bwele in the box to earn a penalty in the 56th minute.

Wan Zack Haikal made no mistake from the spot to put his team 2-1 up.

Before that, Sarawak had their chances but failed to make them count with Babic guilty of several misses.

His closest came in the 52nd minute when he received a pass from Gonzales to fire in a low shot but it was too weak to trouble Harimau Muda A goalkeeper Mohd Farhan Abu Bakar.

The visitors almost made it 3-1 when Izaaq Fgariz Ramlan caught the Sarawak defence napping but his shot hit the crossbar.

In the 76th minute, Babic almost equalised but his shot off a through ball hit the underside of the bar after a deflection off a defender.

From the resulting corner, Sarawak failed to make it count.

In the dying minutes, both teams kept up the tempo but the Young Tigers were to have the last laugh when Wan Zaharulnizam got his second.

He unleashed a thunderous shot that beat the Sarawak goalie to make it 3-1.

The visitors added a fourth through Mohd Nurridzuan while the hosts earned a consolation when Babic scored from a penalty for a 4-2 finish.

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