It was a homecoming of sorts for Perak striker Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi when he scored twice against Sabah at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu.
The Tawau-born player’s contribution saw the Seladang hold the Rhinos to a 2-2 draw on Saturday as they remain unbeaten and second in the Super League with eight points.
It was a valuable point for the away side after the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysian Football League (MFL) decided to stop all football activities in the country starting today due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was Sabah who took the lead in the fifth minute when Azzizan Nordin curled in a brilliant free-kick from 30m.
Shahrel, or fondly known as Eky, equalised 12 minutes later when he finished off a defence-splitting pass from Brazilian striker Guilherme De Paula.
Sabah regained the lead through new French signing Guy Gnabouyou in the 27th minute but Perak continued their hunt for an equaliser relentlessly and was duly rewarded when Shahrel finished off a free-kick delivery from substitute Hafiz Ramdan in the 80th minute.
Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic said the second-half performance should have won them three points.
“It wasn’t easy. They had an extra day’s rest and played at home. We made two mistakes, and that cost us two goals, ” said Durakovic.
“We were excellent in the second half and maybe, we could’ve gotten a penalty or two.
“We were tired in the first half as we’ve had three games away and did not have much recovery time back home.”
Durakovic, however, is not blaming the tight league schedule for the team’s fatigue.
“We’re professionals and will not complain. We’ll go back to Ipoh, knowing that we’ve the capability of producing that second-half performance in any match. We will build on this.”
Sabah coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto said miscommunication in defence saw his boys concede two goals.
“They fought well but are disappointed. The first goal should’ve been offside but that’s football. We must not have any lapses in the future but we’ll work on it during the break.”
Sabah are sixth in the league with five points from four games.