There is a cliché in professional football which states- IT’S NOT THE PERFORMANCE THAT MATTERS, IT’S THE 3 POINTS THAT COUNTS. Lets be honest, Friday night’s game between Sabah & SDM Kepala Batas Penang was not a great advertisement for the Malaysian Premier League. I attended Friday night’s game with my son high in anticipation that this Sabah team would be the one who wore their heart on their sleeves and delivered a passionate style of winning Football- one which would ultimately see Sabah gain promotion at year’s end.
I left the stadium with mixed feelings – delighted that we took home the 3 competition points but unsure as too whether we have the quality within our squad to challenge for promotion this year. However, having had 2 days to reflect on the performance maybe my initial concerns were slightly misguided.
Lets look at the facts – this Sabah team has basically been assembled from scratch. The boys have had little preparation time and one would think that we can only improve as the year goes by. Our new coach Wathiq Naji Jasim has only been with the team for a relatively short time. No doubt he is still familiarising himself with both Malaysian Football and the Sabah players that he has inherited. Judging the team’s performance should only be done at year’s end and is a easy decision for us supporters – PROMOTION=SUCCESS. ANYTHING ELSE= FAILURE.
Lets concentrate on the positives from Friday night’s game,
- 3 points in the bag when we play below our best is surely a good sign.
- A clean sheet-any professional team that does not concede goals has a good chance of being successful.
- The re-emergence of Rezuan Khan in the local State team. Make no mistake, Rezuan is one of the most technically gifted players within the State. What he desperately needs over the next 2 months is good man management. Don’t scold him- give him support, tell him his place is safe in the team and to just go out and play his normal game. Rezuan can win games for us with one moment of magic but he needs to be handled with care.
- A fit again Zanizam Marjan getting on the score sheet. This is the year that Zanizam needs to stand up and be counted. He is now an experienced player and he needs to lead from the front and show the younger players what it’s all about. And im talking about both on and off the pitch- its high time Zanizam showed some maturity and started showing the rookie players how a professional footballer should live his life.
- The emergence of Alto Jinus (no. 6) & Zulamri Muhammad (no.12) . These two lads were the stand out player’s for me on Friday night. They both have one asset that all defender’s fear- SPEED. Speed creates doubt in the defenders mind and gives the attacking player the option of either coming short to feet or long in behind the defender. A one paced attacking player can normally only receive the ball to feet and this makes him easy to mark.If used correctly then Alto & Zulamri can be great assets for Sabah this year. Zanizam can be used as a link man whereby Alto & Zulamri can play off him. It will be interesting to see how these 3 improve their combination as the year goes by.
2009 COACHING STAFF
Kudos to the Sabah FA for their selection of coaches for the 2009 Premier League. My only comment for future year’s would be to appoint the coach immediately after completion of previous year. Of course there are often mitigating circumstances however the more time a coach gets to prepare his team, the better they will perform in the following year. When preparing for a new season, the first thing a coach needs to do is identify the player’s he wants in his squad. This need’s to be done towards the end of previous season and immediately after previous season finishes.
It’s a common occurrence for Malaysian teams to say – phew, we can take a rest now that the season is over. Lets have a meeting in 3 months time to discuss next year. NO– a professional team simply cant operate in this manner. Always remember- successful planning and attention to detail will bring positive results on the pitch.
The appointment of our assistant coaches Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah and Burhan Ajui is in my opinion a great move by Sabah FA. Asyraaf has been very dedicated over the last few years with his coaching career. He has completed all his licences and is now fully qualified to coach in professional football. I have watched a few of his training sessions and he is obviously very well organized, meticulous in his planning and passionate about his sessions. Obviously I played with Burhan Ajui during my playing days with Sabah. Burhan was always a thinking player and one could sense that he may be the one to successfully make the transition from player to coach.
Both Asyraaf & Burhan have important roles to play within the Sabah team this year. They need to act as links between the head coach Wathiq and the players. A successful head coach will not get too close to his players- the players will often wonder where they stand with him or what he thinks off them. This is where the assistant coaches are so important- they need to keep the head coach updated on the mood in the camp, who are the trouble makers in the squad and so on. This will help the head coach in his management of the players. Make no mistake- at professional level the man management of the players by the head coach will ultimately determine whether you are successful or not.
Players win games of football- not coaches. And if you man manage a player correctly then he will go out on that pitch not wanting to let his head coach down. The best in the world at this is of course- SIR ALEX FERGUSON.
See you all soon & GO THE RHINOS.