The good times are near

If you ask the hardcore Rhinos fans to be patient they will probably reply- “we have been patient for 5 years now, how much longer do you expect us to wait for success”. Well the answer to that is less than 1 year.

I attended Friday nights game against Felda United and trust me when I say we are on the right track. Despite the 0-0 draw, the team has obviously been well coached and credit must be given to head coach Wathiq and his assistants Mohd Asyraaf and Burhan Ajui. In the 1st half we were compact and played as a unit. By this I mean the team moved up and down the pitch together and there was no huge gaps or holes between the players as per previous seasons.

However, as is so often the case with Malaysian football, the 2nd half was a different story. Suddenly there was a lot of space for both teams as players got tired which made playing together as a unit almost possible. One of the challenges for Sabahs coaching staff is to get the players fitness to a level where they do not fatigue in the last 25 minutes of the 2nd half. This will allow us to move up and down the pitch in close contact with each other. From here it will be easier for us to maintain possession and ultimately create goalscoring chances.

As a foreign striker in the 90,s, I always told myself to be patient and that I would definitely get goalscoring chances late in the 2nd half. This was because I knew the local players would fatigue and the game would open up like the Grand Canyon. My job was to keep myself fresh enough so that when those chances came, I was able to hit the target.

Any team that does not concede a goal in 450 minutes of football is doing something right. HOWEVER, we have only scored 4 goals in 5 games which is a concern. My observation for our attacking play from Friday nights game is as follows,


– the wide players should be crossing into dangerous areas around the six yard box instead of trying to pick out individual players. They only need to create half a yard of space before whipping in a dangerous cross .

– from here our wide players need to understand the importance of missing the 1st defender when he crosses the ball. Nothing more frustrating than for the wide player to get into a promising crossing area, only for him to hit it to low and be easily cleared by the 1st defender at the near post. If they cross the ball with speed and zip and miss the 1st defender into the 6 yard box then there job is done.


– our strikers in my opinion are too static inside the box. At the moment they are only moving once the cross has been made. They need to start taking chances and make there runs before the wide player crosses the ball. The wide player knows his job is to whip the ball into the 6 yard area. So even before he crosses the ball our strikers must be making runs across the face of defenders. If they can get in front of defender with a well timed run then obviously they have a chance to score as they will make contact with the ball before defender does.

– By standing and waiting we become too easy to mark. Matlan and I rarely spoke off the pitch but on the pitch we were always moving and we knew when to take chances around the box and when to hold and shield the ball around the half way line.

– Another tactic not used is for one striker to dummy/leave the ball for his partner, then spin and get the ball back off his strike partner. This will leave him running at speed into opponents box which is a dream come true for all quality strikers.

Zaykiel Leong will make a huge difference to this team. He has speed and im looking forward to him forging a dangerous partnership with Zanizam Marjan who has been very impressive thus far this year. He is playing in the hole between midfield and up front and im sure he will provide the ammunition for Zaykiel to score regularly.

Unfortunately, Sabah lost Monday nights game to Malacca 3-0. The away game curse has once again hit us. Playing on Friday and then traveling to West Malaysia on Sunday is very tiring by anyones standards which is why the players fitness levels must be at there absolute maximum. Out of interest, I wonder how many of the players smoke. Are the players conscious of there food intake, sleep patterns and rest periods. At the end of the day, all these little things make the difference between winning and losing.

So remember Rhinos fans- PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE. Lets hope the lads can get on a winning run from here on.

See you next month.


Scott Ollerenshaw played for Sabah from 1994 - 1997 and partnered with Matlan Marjan to become the most feared strike force in the Malaysian league. Became the second highest scorer in the league in his first season with 36 goals in all competition. Then he won the Golden Boot in 1995 and 1996, helping Sabah to win her first ever trophy, the FA Cup and the league title in 1996. He is now married to former Sabah karate athlete Michelle Koh and they have 2 children together. Scott is now residing and focusing on businesses in Kota Kinabalu. He currently owns and manages the KK Futsal centre and Borneo Sports Holidays.

4 thoughts on “The good times are near

  • March 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    With all due respect. I think the players need better facilities. Both on and off the pitch. Obviously a few players smoke. But all Sabah fans know that Matlan smoked, yet he still went on to be the Malaysian footballer who scored against England. So it isn’t really only about smoking. It’s their whole LIFESTYLE. They don’t have enough food: lives on cigarettes. Eats ‘keropok’ and ‘pisang goreng’ almost all day. This clearly shows the problem. Discipline and cooperation from players and coaches are required. The only way to improve the fitness and health of the squad is to prevent things like starving from happening.

  • March 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

    My response to “The good times are near”

    When I read this, even before the Malacca match,I was not optimistic at all given the fact that our team has difficulty in finding the net,
    one has to understand, in soccer match, you need to score to win, otherwise, you can only draw against your opponents at best.
    Looking at the Malacca match,you know sooner or later, you will get thrashed by opponents who went all out in attack having known there is no danger in their own defence.

    Sabah was known for producing very good strikers in the past, like the twin strikers in King James Wong & Hassan Sani, Tony Wong, Razali Zinin, Rashid Piut, Matlan;perhaps,based on this, we still have hope that we will unearth new strikers of such calibre one day.

  • April 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    After i descended from Mt Kinabalu, my legs ached. i cudnt walk for a few days. but after dat, i was so fit i cudnt feel tiredness for 90 min on the pitch, and i ran like to sabah players, try steep hill training.go the EXTRA mile, do ur own extra fitness..and watch ur diet!!

  • April 24, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I read all the articles sent by scott, and I really understand his points. Especially when he said “As a foreign striker in the 90,s, I always told myself to be patient and that I would definitely get goalscoring chances late in the 2nd half. This was because I knew the local players would fatigue and the game would open up like the Grand Canyon.” From this sentences, it very clear that, why Scott can score more goals and be a good player that time. He agreed that local player would fatigue in the 2nd half and decrease in their performance.

    Here, I would like share my knowledge concerning to football games to all readers. We know that there are lot of factors influenced how well the players can perform and how to win the match. But, I really concerned in player’s fitness and psychology. I am not going through on management and others matters out of players can do.

    As Scott mentioned, to be a good player fitness is essential. Yes, I agree that we have many talented players around Sabah. We can see them performing a lot of amazing skill during games. But the question is how long they can hold this skill? until the end of the match? Without enough fitness they can not do the skill very well in long period of time. As we know, Football is combine type of sport. We have to sprint, jog, walk, jump and other skill in football during the game. so, what is the specific training we have do to improve them? Recovery also very important in football. I don’t know how much time the coach gives the players rest. Too much training also bad for the player fitness, because the body do not enough time to recovery. Same as we eat too much rice, how can we eat all the time without rest! the food they eat also influence their performance. What they should eat and should not eat? amount of water they consume? types of food they consume?everything must be controlled.

    Psychology also very important in football, especially in competition. Lot of people always talking about psychology. I am not sure, they really know psychology or not. Roughly, psychology is the study of human mind and its function. That why it very important when someone become a player. What the player have in their mind? money, popularity or pleasure. we know most of the player’s aim is money. But, a good players are more concerned on winning the game. It very hard to find player that live for football.

    So how to make them fit to all this tasks? Is it coach’s responsibility or the players? or someone educated? Think about it.

    Actually, I have more things to share, but I don’t know how the readers can appreciate this. Because, sometime small, easy and silly thing like this people do not look. That is why they never successful. I’ll be ready to give more. maybe next time.thanks.

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