SURPRISE package Sabah will be looking to stage another upset when they take on defending champions Perak in the football semi-finals at the Manjung Municipal Council Stadium tonight.
The plucky Sabahans sprung a surprise when they edged heavyweights Pahang 7-6 in a sudden-death penalty shootout after their quarter-final clash ended with a 3-3 stalemate in extra time at the TLDM Stadium on Saturday.
Their opponents Perak marched into the semi-finals after beating Federal Territories 4-3 in their quarter-final match at the Manjung Municipal Council Stadium.
Sabah manager Benedict Asmat said hosts Perak were buoyed by the partisan crowd at the stadium and added that his side revelled in the underdogs tag too.
“The more people underestimate us, the more we want to prove them wrong. This mentality has taken us to the semi-finals,” said Benedict.
“We were trailing 0-2 against Pahang but we stepped up to lead 3-2 before conceding a late equaliser. Then in extra time, we managed to hold on and win the sudden-death shootout.
“This shows the mental strength of the players, they really pushed hard for the win and kept their composure in the shootout.
“We’re now inching closer to the gold medal and I want the team to continue to push hard.”
Benedict said Sabah would be counting on coach Johnny Dominicus’ experience to negotiate their way to the final.
Johnny had previously ended the state’s 26-year wait for a Sukma gold medal in football at the Pahang edition in 2012.
“We’ve an experienced coach helming the team, he knows well what needs to be done to get the players firing on all cylinders,” said Benedict.
“The players are tired but they are all fired up to enter the final. We want to win our second gold medal.”
The other semi-final will see Terengganu taking on Kedah in a repeat of the President’s Cup final at the TLDM Stadium in Lumut. Then, Terengganu emerged as champions.
On Saturday, Terengganu beat Perlis 2-1 while Kedah edged Melaka 2-1 in their respective quarter-final matches.
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