Here we go again making 4th consecutive appearance in the Premier League challenge!
Will this be our year or could this be our year, only time will tell. For the new M-League season, we have a new man taking charge of the Rhinos. The vastly experienced Wathiq Naji Jasim is the man that we will be counting on to show us the way to the top of the Malaysian football scene.
Wathiq is one of the most decorated coaches in the Middle East and he is bringing along his experience and knowledge spanning more than 30 years. But even with the abundance of experience, Wathiq is not willing to make any promises or set any targets for the new-look Rhinos.
However he still looks optimistic about the team’s challenve despirte refusing to comment on the team’s chances, strength or weaknesses.
When pressed further, he merely urges the fans – especially the Rhinos’ die-hard supporters to be patient.
“To those fans who are interested in the Sabah team, I urge them to be patient as it takes time to build a team” said the man from Baghdad.
When asked to describe his team, he said “We have a new healthy team and this is a squad that I believe will progress as time passes”. Wathiq who turns 69 on July 1, had coached the Iraq national team three times and becamse the only local (Iraq) coach to have guided Iraq to the world’s 2 most biggest and glamorous events – the Olympics Games and the World Cup.
He was the man who showed Iraq the way to the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980. He was also the man who managed the Iraq national team that defeated Syria in a play-off that eventually saw them qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever in Mexico in 1986. Sadly, Wathiq was removed as the head coach by a Brazilian prior to the World Cup.
With Sabah, Wathiq who is also a former Iraqi midfielder, is more than just a head coach. He is also like a father to a squad of 24 players. Wathiq, who took over the Rhinos’ hot seat from Croatian Drago Mamic in early December, won his first target with the team. He had managed to create a family environment in the squad, which he said is an important criteria in any team sports event.
I’m happy with the team. We are together like in one big family… the coaches, the players and officials alike”, he said, before pointing out that this is the first basic for work in the football industry. “The result at the end, whatever it may be will reflect on this” Wathiq added. He went on to say that the success and fall of the team will rely much on the players.
However, he added that he will be the man to be blamed should anything go wrong for the team. “This is what will happen in football., We are like a shield to the players. Anything wrong on the field, the coach or coaches will be blamed.
So that is why it is important to have unity in the team so that we can help each other better.”
For the new season Wathiq will be assisted by 2 assistants – Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah and Burhan Ajui, while Awal Taham is the goalkeeper coach.
Article taken from New Sabah Times soccer pull-out (9th Jan 2009)