KOTA KINABALU: No Brazilian Samba nor any English-style, but the Rhinos fans can expect to see a brand new style of soccer introduced by coach Drago Mamic when Sabah take on Selangor PKNS in the opener of the Premier League at the Likas Stadium on Friday.
The Croatian who was hired about a month ago or so has brought a new approach to the team.
While it may not be appropriate to reveal his new approach, as it will only do injustice to the team, but one thing for sure is Sabah are going to play the game the Croatian-way, where team work will be the top priority rather than individual play.
The coach, who comes with high credentials having done pretty well with his previous teams in China as well as his homeland Croatia, is hoping that the team adapt quickly to the new system.
When met at the Rhinos’ training scene yesterday, Drago seemed to be happy with how the team have progressed.
He said: “The team are getting better and better each day. And I can say that we are ready for the challenge.”
“Our preparations have been great but whether it will be enough I don’t know. This is because I don’t know the opponents (team). But we are in good shape and I have 11 good players and 13-14 players ready to play,” he added.
Commenting on the tight fixtures (for the new season), Drago said: “We must be prepared. The players must be ready for it. It’s normal in soccer. In some European countries, they are playing two matches a week … Wednesday and Sunday.”
“Furthermore, we have several players who can play two or three roles, so I can rotate them. Unless more than four of our key players are injured or suspended, then we will have a problem,” he said.
While the Premier League gets off on a low note where only one match will be played in December that is on Friday, but from January onwards until May, Sabah are going to play not less than four matches per month.
In January they will play four matches in the space of 19 days – two home and two away games.
They take on Kuala Lumpur away on January 2, before playing home to Armed Forces on January 5. Then they travel to Kedah taking on newly promoted Kuala Kedah Naza on January 9 before taking on Kelantan at the Likas Stadium on January 19.
After the Kelantan game, the Premier League will take a three-week break to give way to the national team preparing for the Tiger Cup.
The Premier League will only resume on February 13, where Sabah would face Plus FC of Kuala Lumpur in an away battle.
However, on February 6, Sabah would kick start their Malaysia Cup campaign by taking on Perak at the Likas Stadium.
Besides the two matches, Sabah are going to play another three more matches in the same month.
In March, there will be five matches and the most hectic month is April where Sabah will have to play seven matches – three home and four away.
In the month of May, it will still be tight fixtures with six scheduled matches, while the fixtures slow down in June with only two matches, where during the month the knockout stage of the Malaysia Cup is expected to take place.
Sabah would end their Premier League campaign by taking on Selangor PKNS on July 31.