KEDAH posted their fifth home win in the FAM-Belia Cup soccer competition by overcoming a fighting Sabah 3-0 at the mini stadium in Jitra on Sunday.
Kedah scored as early as the sixth minute when striker Mohd Aidil Adha netted from close range. This was followed by two second half goals by Mohd Fadzrul Daniel (84th minute) and G. Thipenraj (88th minute) to complete the rout.
This was Sabah’s eighth defeat in eleven matches.
As in previous home matches, Kedah took the lead in the sixth minute after shirking off an early Sabah threat. From deep defence, the ball was pumped upfield by skipper Mohd Akmal Afizan which was picked up by Mohd Shuhaimie Saad on the right.
Shuhaimie beat a Sabah defender on the run and laid on a perfect pass for Mohd Aidil to connect from close range to beat Sabah custodian Mazlan Norli for the first goal.
The goal only triggered the Sabah team to raise their work rate and prevent further damage by the Kedah team. Their defence built around Mohd Sollehuddin Daud, Syazwan Roslan and Masmilan Anil coordinated superbly to check the Kedah attacks.
Even though the Sabah defence was constantly under pressure, this did not prevent Sabah from mounting dangerous counterattacks themselves.
In the process, both teams had a number of goal-scoring chances but were either off target or were checked by the opposing defence.
The half-time was called by referee Mohd Azle Nidzar with Kedah leading by a solitary goal.
In the second half, Kedah had the upper hand as they kept pounding the Sabah goal but the hardworking Sabah players rose to the occasion with goalkeeper Mazlan bringing off a couple of acrobatic saves to deny Kedah from adding to their lead.
At the other end, Sabah too had their chances but their attempts were blocked by the swift-moving Kedah defence.
The relentless Kedah attacks began to take a toll on the Sabah defence and they committed a number of fouls close to their penalty area, giving Kedah the opportunity to score from set pieces.
Mohd Fadzrul, who had scored from free kicks in previous matches failed to find his mark on two occasions in the 67th and 74th minutes but he was third time lucky.
In the 84th minute, the elusive Mohd Saiful Amiri was fouled at the left edge of the penalty area by Sabah defender Mohd Yazid Ahmad. Fazrul, who had sent his two previous kicks from similar positions over the bar, got it right this time when he beat Sabah goalkeeper Mazlan with a curling shot into goal to make it 2-0 for Kedah.
With the minutes ticking away, Kedah kept up their tempo in attack and got their third goal in the 88th minute.
Right flanker Zulhafizi Zambri who had been a thorn to the Sabah defence with his speedy runs beat a couple of defenders and sent a cross into the Sabah goal area.
Sabah custodian Mazlan in trying to guide the ball over the goal line only succeeded in sending it on to the cross bar and the rebound was neatly headed into goal by Thipenraj.
Kedah will play Pahang Sports School from Gambang on Sunday in an away match and will take a rest the following week on May 10. Their last match of the league competition will be on May 17 at home against Perak.
Results of other matches: Perak 3 Terengganu 1; Johor 2 Negri Sembilan 1; Malacca 3 Penang 3; Sekolah Sukan Pahang 0 Selangor 0; Sarawak 0 Kuala Lumpur 0.