KOTA KINABALU: The 12 players from the 2007/08 squad who have not shown any indication of going elsewhere for the new season will be rewarded for their loyalty to the team.
Yesterday, the Sabah FA Executive Secretary Harry Baking said that these players are almost certain to be retained for the new season. However, Harry said that it doesn’t mean that they can take things for granted as the FA will not hesitate to get rid of the rotten apples. “We are delighted to see that these players have decided to stick with the team. I can say that their place in the team is as good as secured. “But then again, like the rest of the players, they will still have to prove that they deserve a place in the team. “There is no point of having players who don’t want to improve and fight for the team.
“Since we are banking on an all-local side for the new season, we really hope to see these players lead by example because they have been in the team for quite a while now,” said Harry.
Commenting on those who have left the team, Harry said that there is no point of stopping them from leaving as they have no heart to play for the team. “Since they are no longer interested to play for Sabah there is no reason for us to stop them from leaving. We wish them luck with their new teams, and on our part we will try our best to build the team around our very own homegrown talent.
“We believe we have local players who are more than capable of spearheading our challenge,” said Harry. On the current hopefuls currently training and undergoing trials with the team, Harry said that some of them have impressed the team officials. “We are going to play several more friendly matches and we will have a good look at them, but I believe there are a few of them who could easily fit into the team.
Among those who have decided to stick with the Rhinos are skipper Rosdin Wasli, Zainizam Marjan, Hardy Charles Parsi, Harold John, Henry Parsi, Irwan Jamil, Md Farid Saibun, Md Radzi Hussin, Md Salawi Ahmad Jasad, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Zulamri Muhammad and Zuraindey Jumai. Those players who have opted to look for greener pastures are Bobby Gonzalez, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, Chow Chee Weng, Hishamuddin Othman, Md Nafuzi Md Zain, Munir Imran and Wong Sai Kong.
In the case of Eddie Gapil and Salvester Sindeh, they are likely to be called up by their employer Police for the new season. Among those players who are set to make a comeback into the state team are defender Md Reithuddin Awang Embran, Gasili Pengalot, Mafry Ballang and Zaykiel Leong to name a few.
Rezuan Aman Khan, Vun Ket Ming @ Billyton as well as several more players from the Reserve League and Under-19 squad are trying their luck with the team. Meanwhile, Harry also revealed that they are likely to announce the team’s coach in the next couple of days. “There is one or two minor things that we need to look into. Once everything is settled, we will make the announcement. I think it is going to be done by this weekend or the latest will be early next week,” said Harry.
At the moment, the Rhinos are currently training under assistant coach Burhan Ajui. Iraqi Wathiq Naji, who is the hot favourite to take the Rhinos’ hot seat, was also seen at the team’s training scene the last two days.