kOTA KINABALU: National left-back Sumardi Hajalan will not be making a comeback to the State team after all. The Tawau-born player, who is in his final year contract with the Super League outfit Johor FC, has been denied a release by his employer.
This was the second time that his wish to make a comeback failed to materialise. The first time was at the end of the 2007 season.
Sumardi, 24, left for Johor FC in a controversial way at the end of the 2006 season.
Then Sumardi deserted his State team despite promising to sign a new contract with the Sabah FA, before snubbing them at the eleventh hour and joining the southern club side instead.
For the new season, which is expected to kick off middle of next month, the FA has named a 25-member squad that comprises seven new faces, including five ex-State players making a comeback into the team.
They are Madzalan Emoi, Md Reithuddin Ag Embran, Bobby Gonzales, Razlan Otto, Shahrul Azhar Ture, and Mark Damun, who will act as player cum goalkeeper coach.
The other two new faces are striker Mohd Farid Ideris from Johor FC and Sabah-born Christopher Musa, who played for Johor FC President’s Cup squad after finishing school at the Bandar Penawar Sports School.
Last season, Madzalan played for Johor FC, Reithuddin donned Melaka’s colours while Bobby was with KL Plus and Razlan was plying his trade with Pahang.
As for Shahrul, he is attached to the Health Department Tawau and will be on a semi-pro contract.
The crocked first choice custodian is the only player that is yet to sign his contract.
While those players retained from last season’s squad are Zainizam Marjan, Rosdin Wasli, Harold John, Alto Linus, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Joey Ryan Gundok, Mohd Farid Saibun, Julamri Muhammad, Mohd Radzi Hussin, Billyton Vun Ket Ming, Mafry Balang, Hardy Charles Parsi, Gasili Pengalot, Mohd June Azral Lalah, Hendry Parsi, Mohd Salawi Jasad and Leopold Alfonso Otong.
And those players from last season squad that did not have their contracts renewed include two local imports namely Mohd Farris Azlan Mat Isa and Wong Sai Kong. The rest are Awang Norhidzan, Clarrey Tabad, Rezuan Khan Aman and Selyvister Saini.
For the new season, Australian Gary Phillips is likely to be the man the FA will be counting on to help them bring back glory days to the state with Justin Ganai his likely assistant.