KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah FA may opt for a foreign-local combination to take charge of the Rhinos next season.
Although at press time everything was not very clear, but there is a possibility of having a foreign-local combination in managing the Rhinos.
When met at the Rhinos’ friendly match at the Likas Stadium on Thursday night, the Sabah FA officials were tight-lipped when asked to comment.
Nevertheless, they assured that they would announce the name of the man to take charge of the team within this week.
Among those present at the friendly were acting President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang, Treasurer Joehari Datuk Ayub, Secretary General Alfred Lojiton, team manager and Supreme Council member Rahman Zakaria and the FA’s Executive Secretary Harry Baking.
But if the foreign-local combination is not going to materialise, then Iraqi Wathiq Naji is the hot favourite to take over the Rhinos’ hot seat!
He is likely to get the nod as the FA has little options as far as their search for a local coach is concerned.
Wathiq was also seen at the friendly, alongside former Justin Ganai, who is also in the frame for the job.
Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah, who also applied for the post, was nowhere to be seen. He was believed to be outstation.
The FA is looking for a man to lead the team after deciding not to renew the contract of its former coach, Croatian Drago Mamic.
And the FA is looking for someone with strong leadership … in short a fighter, and Wathiq seems to fit the bill.
Wathiq, 68, has vast experience in the game, having guided his country to the World Cup in 1986.
And he is no stranger to the Malaysian soccer scene having had a one session stint with Kuala Lumpur in 2001. Furthermore, he has been based in Malaysia for quite sometime. In fact in 2000, he also got the nod to coach Perak, only to find out that Karl Weigang was the man the Perak FA named as their coach.
The former Iraq midfielder also succeeded in guiding Iraq to the Olympic Games in 1980.
For the new season, where Sabah will be playing in the Premier League for the fourth consecutive season, they will be banking on all-Sabah players.
The new season is scheduled to kick off in early January.