FA backs squad

READY TO DELIVER … Gimbang (centre) is flanked by Joehari (right) and Vice President Tuan Hj Husin Hj Abdurahim during the press conference.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah FA is “seriously concerned” about the Rhinos’ poor showing in the Premier League.

Its Deputy President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang said the team’s position in the ongoing League is in a worrying state.

But for now, Gimbang added that they have unanimously agreed to stand behind the team “believing that they (the team) could come out of the troubled waters”.

“We are worried and concerned about the team for not doing well in the Premier League,” he admitted.

Gimbang said this after chairing the FA’s Supreme Council meeting held at its office in Likas here yesterday.

“But we have unanimously decided to stick behind the team. We believe we need a good striker to solve the team’s problem and we are in the process of identifying one,” he added.

Actually, Gimbang said its former striker Zaykiel Leong is set to make a comeback into the team.

“We are just waiting for the transfer window to be opened in May. Once it is opened, we will do what needs to be done,” he said, referring to their intention of registering Zaykiel.

“And we also hope once we get a good striker, the team will improve and start winning matches.

“At the moment, we are having a break, and we want the team to train hard and rectify their weaknesses.

On the fate of the under-fire head coach Wathiq Naji Jasim, he said they have yet to deliberate on the Iraqi’s position in the team.

“We will deliberate on his case. In fact we are waiting for the report from the team management. Once we have the report, we will thoroughly go through it and would decide on the next course of action.

“We are expecting the report to be ready in about two weeks from now,” he said, an indication that Wathiq’s position in the team is still under threat, especially after they succumbed to the fourth consecutive defeat against Johor recently.

Regarding the meeting, Gimbang said that it was a usual meeting to discuss the current issues involving the association as well as its teams – the Premier League and the Reserve League.

“What we discussed was current issues. It was just a usual meeting.

He also said that the meeting also touched on the association’s financial status, but refused to go into details.

Gimbang also revealed that they agreed to revive the Inter-Zone tournament, adding that it is an Under-21 championship.

“We have also decided that each team must register at least four Under-19 players,” said Gimbang, adding that the West Coast Zone has agreed to stage the championship and it will be held in October.

He said all its affiliate members, namely West Coast Zone, North Zone, Sandakan Zone, Tawau Zone, Interior Upper Zone and Interior Lower Zone will participate in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Joehari Datuk Ayub said that the tournament will be used as part of their preparations for their Premier League challenge next season.

“Next time around, selection for the State team will be conducted thoroughly. The process of identifying players will be done more aggressively … be it for the senior squad or the Reserve League side,” said Joehari, who is also the Rhinos’ former team manager.

“We will leave no stone unturned as far as our search for the best players are concerned,” added Joehari.

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