KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah FA officially appointed Wathiq Naji Jassim as its new head coach yesterday.
His selection comes as no surprise as the 68-year-old former Iraqi midfielder has been seen with the team for almost two weeks or so.
The FA also named Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah and Burhan Ajui as assistant coaches, while Awal Taham is the goalkeeper coach to make it a foreign-local combination.
“The puzzle has been completed with the appointment of the coaches,” Rahman Zakaria said.
“It is a good blend, and it is great to have someone of Wathiq’s calibre on board. He has experience playing and coaching at a multitude of levels. His record speaks for itself,” Rahman added.
“He will bring fresh philosophy to this team, and since he is also Asian, it would be easier for him to understand our culture and I’m sure the players can adapt well to his system.
Wathiq has an abundance of experience, having coached the Iraq national side as well as some of the top clubs in Asia.
“The team management believes Wathiq has the charisma and experience to turn the Rhinos into a formidable force in the country.
“With Mohd Asyraaf and Burhan around him, we are optimistic that they can put the team in the right direction.
Wathiq took over the hot seat from Croatian Drago Mamic, whose contract has not been renewed.
Wathiq also guided Iraq to their first World Cup appearance in 1986 in Mexico.
After securing a berth in the World Cup through the Asian qualifying round in 1985, unfortunately for Wathiq, he was removed as the head of the Iraq national team and was replaced by Brazilian Evaristo.
Glancing at Wathiq’s background, he received a Grade A Certificate for Professional Football Coaching in 1978 from the German Football Association (DFB) in Frankfurt, Germany.
In 1967, he was awarded a Higher Diploma in Football and Sports Science from the German University of Physical Culture and Sport in Leipzig.
In 1961, he completed his undergraduate study and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Baghdad, Iraq.
Wathiq attended many professional courses in Cologne in 1973, London in 1969 and Germany in 1983.
From 1958 to 1967, Wathiq was a player in the Iraq Super League. From 1963 to 1966 he was a player in the Iraq national football team.
Meanwhile, the FA Executive Secretary Harry Baking said that they will be holding a team management meeting soon to finalise all documentation pertaining to the players’ contracts.
“Once the matter is finalised, then we call for the official signing of the contracts,” said Harry.