KUCHING: Sarawak fans got a bitter taste of the country’s top flight football last Saturday after a one-year absence.
One could be forgiven for mistaking the Selayang Stadium for the Stadium Negeri at Petra Jaya as Sarawak fans in the thousands watched the Crocs play, most of whom are Peninsular Malaysia-based while the rest travelled there.
Unfortunately, Sarawak succumbed to a 0-2 defeat against ATM in their first Super League match of the season. The Crocs last played in the top tier league in 2012.
Head coach Robert Alberts was philosophical in his comments after the match. It was not the end for Sarawak, he said, and he did not want to dwell on the result against a team who are potential title contenders.
But make no mistake. He was disappointed with the result but just wanted his team to move on and focus on the next match.
Mistakes by the defence and a couple of wasted chances proved fatal for Sarawak last Saturday.
“Both goals were the result of bad defending. We were cruelly punished for that,” said Alberts.
It took only 17 minutes for ATM’s Marlon Alex James to breach the Sarawak defence. Christie Jayaseelan followed with another goal in the 29th minute to help ATM go ahead 2-0 by half-time.
Sarawak’s misery was compounded by the injury suffered by striker Muamer Salibasic in the 20th minute. He was substituted by Alireza Abbasfard.
Details of Salibasic’s injury were yet to be revealed.
Apart from the shaky defence, Alberts also said Sarawak’s attacking strikeforce was not sharp enough.
Experienced striker Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli and midfielder Junior Eldstal were brought in for the second half but they failed to turn the team’s fortune around.
Sarawak will play Penang in the FA Cup tomorrow (Tuesday) at home. The team’s next Super League match will also be a home match against Kelantan this Saturday (Jan 25).