KOTA KINABALU: Inconsistency prevailed yet again as the Rhinos succumbed to their biggest defeat of the season losing 0-4 to Johor in a Premier League match on Monday.
That was their first defeat in three matches under stand-in coach Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah, and the 10th this season.
In his first game in charge, they defeated Melaka 1-0 before being held to a one-all draw by PKNS FC. Both were home matches.
Now, one wonders whether the Rhinos’ inconsistency has got to do with the coach or coaches’ ability or is it that the current squad is just not capable of spearheading the State’s challenge to glory.
And if this is the case, then the imminent departure of Iraqi Wathiq Naji Jasim, who is currently on indefinite leave until the Sabah FA decides on his resignation, will be a great loss.
The vastly experienced Wathiq is a humble man who works with what he has been given without complaining.
Wathiq, who is one of the most decorated coaches from the Middle East, having guided his country to their first World Cup in Mexico in 1986 and the Olympic Games in 1980, surely has all the experience and knowledge to help lift Sabah football.
If Sabah ever hopes to recover from this inconsistency one word that we need to say is a total revamp.
With the Premier League challenge, which is now heading towards its end, with Sabah having four matches left to play, there is nothing more than just a little pride to fight for.
And with that in mind, it would be a wise thing to start preparing for the Malaysia Cup challenge starting with the home game against Sarawak this Friday.
For the record, the Malaysia Cup will kick off after the Hari Raya festival celebration.
In the game against Johor, Sabah were forced to play with one player lesser for the last 38 minutes of the game after Billyton Vun Ket Ming was given a straight red card for what appeared to be elbowing a Johor player.
“The absence of Zaykiel Leong and Joey Ryan Gundok did affect our game,” said Mohd Asyraaf.
The defeat has left Sabah dropping two rungs down from ninth to 11th in the 13-team standings.
They are on 18 points, seven points ahead of Sarawak, who occupy the last slot for relegation.
Melaka who also collected 18 points thus far are ahead of Sabah in 10th on better goals scored.
SDM Kepala Batas languish at the bottom of the standings on seven.
Next Sabah take on Sarawak at the Likas Stadium on Friday, where a victory would virtually seal their Premier League spot next season.