KOTA KINABALU: Drago Mamic is satisfied with the team’s progress in their preparations ahead of the new season that kicks off next month.
The Rhinos’ head coach has no complaints whatsoever in their build up to the new season, pointing out that their preparations have been going on smoothly.
And what delights him most is that he has been getting undivided support from all parties, right from the top level officials to the players.
And this has made the Croatian optimistic about the team’s chances in the new season. “This year, I have been getting very good support right from the team management to the players. Every one has been helping and showing their support towards our preparations … the President, the managers – Firdaus (Anifah Datuk Aman), Rahman (Zakaria) – my assistant coaches Khairul (Azman Mohd), Bob (Burhan Ajui) and Paing (Henry Soimpon). They have been giving me a big helping hand.
“The players have also shown a positive attitude and have been working really hard. I must thank all of them for the trust and support they have given me.
“In fact all this has prompted me to be very optimistic and have confidence in the team. With this kind of support, I firmly believe we can achieve something if we work together as a big family, like what is happening now.
“I can feel that we are breathing the same air and working towards realising the same dreams. I’m very satisfied with what has been happening, surrounding the team because once this is happening to the team it will only help us to become a better squad,” Drago said.
He then insisted that they have a better chance (compared to last season) of gaining promotion into the Super League.
“We have a better chance to get promoted this time around. But having said so, I cannot guarantee that we will surely gain promotion because we don’t know how the other teams have progressed. We don’t know their strength because in the new season, it will be different.
“But as long as we can show progress, I firmly believe that we have a squad that is good enough for the challenge.
“With no disrespect to the players … last season I can say that I had a squad of 12 players, but this time I have about 17-18 players who are ready for the job and I’m very happy with what I have now.
“I could say that we have a very interesting team here, but we must pay attention not to make silly mistakes as it could cost us our game.
With the league going to be less hectic compared to last year after the FA of Malaysia decided to play the Malaysia Cup after the completion of League matches and the FA Cup, Drago has quietly set his sights on helping the Rhinos end their title drought.
For the record, it has been more than a decade since the Rhinos last won any major honour in the M-League. The last time was in 1996 when they emerged the Premier I champions, now known as the Super League.
Commenting on the Rhinos’ recent friendly against Tawau Selection, Drago said: “It was a good trip for the team.
“It was a good game. We were playing under good conditions, on a good pitch and overall I’m happy with the trip.
“We played really well and although our opponents were not very strong, still it was a good show from the players.
“They played at the highest level and managed 20 passes at one time and I can see that the team is getting better and better.
“Nevertheless, we still need to improve in training, especially in possession of the ball because this will be a dangerous weapon.
“Once we can take possession in a game, it would be easy for us to dominate any game. It would also brighten our chances of winning the game.
“Overall, I’m happy with the way we play, but I must remind the players that they have to keep on improving as by doing this it will help the team progress.
Drago also said that at the moment they are 95 per cent ready for the new season.
“I have to slow down a little because the League only kicks off next month. We need to peak at the right time,” said Drago, before declaring that they will be in top gear when they kick start their season up against Armed Forces in an away battle on December 17.