KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah FA has got no other alternative but to go back to the drawing board and start the rebuilding work if they harbour any hope of bringing back the Rhinos’ glory days.
There is certainly a lot to do to transform the Rhinos into a force to be reckoned with, which they were not too long ago.
But the Rhinos’ declining influence in the national football scene did not just happen yesterday, but about four years or so ago, as the upcoming season will see them making their fifth consecutive appearance in the Premier League.
However, things do not look as bad as it seemed a couple of years ago, as while they did not do well in the League campaign, they managed to give a good show in the FA Cup and the Malaysia Cup.
For instance, they reached the FA Cup quarter-finals twice in the last four years (in 2007 and 2007), and were the Malaysia Cup losing finalists in 2007.
In the Premier League they finished fourth in 2006 and sixth the following season. Last season (2008) they finished fourth.
This time around, the Rhinos concluded their 2009 season on Tuesday with nothing than a big disappointment yet again.
But this (season) is believed to be their worst season, finishing ninth among the 13-team Premier League, being ousted as early as in the first round in the FA Cup challenge and having their Malaysia Cup hopes dashed as early as in the group stage.
On Tuesday, the Rhinos ended their Malaysia Cup campaign with a 2-2 draw against Police.
Youngsters Leopold Alphonso Otong and Henry Parsi scored the goals for the Rhinos.
The result also saw the Rhinos remain bottom of Group D on four points from six games, registering one win, four defeats and one draw.
Police are third on five points with Kuala Muda Naza in second spot, while Selangor top the group on 13 points.
Kuala Muda Naza also joined Selangor into the quarter-finals after the club side defeated the Red Giants 3-2 in the other Group D match.
The rest of the quarter-final places were snapped up by KL Plus FC and Perlis (Group A), Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu (Group B), Johor FC (Group C) and Kelantan (Group E).
Only the group winners and three top ranked second placed teams advanced into the home-and-away knock-out stages.
The first leg of the quarter-finals will be played on Oct 20 that will see KL Plus taking on Kelantan, while Negeri Sembilan will be pitted against Kuala Muda Naza.
Johor FC face Perlis, while Selangor will take on Terengganu.
The second leg has been slated for Oct 24.