Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Head Coach, Gary Philips is unsure whether the fitness level of his squad will be good enough for the hectic start to the 2010 Premier League season.
With the team’s fitness level in question and the start of the season being less than a week away, Gary also faces another problem.
Strikers Bobby Gonzales and Mohd Farid Ideris, who are expected to bring potency to the squad from their experience playing in the Super League last season, are both doubtful starters for Sabah’s season opener against Felda United FC at the Likas Stadium on January 11.
Bobby was reportedly down with a groin injury, while Mohd Farid has got a hamstring problem.
“Injuries to Bobby and Mohd Farid will be a huge setback for us. These are players who played in the Super League last season. The experience they have and the quality they possess is supposed to add strength to the team.
Starting the season without them will be a setback for us.
“The team’s fitness is also something of concern. Fitness is very important, but time will tell whether our fitness level will be ok. Nevertheless, we just have to be smart on our recovery sessions and the amount of training we do this week and throughout the season,” said Philips, when met at the team’s training session at the Likas Sports Complex here, yesterday.
Gary also commented on the hectic start that the team would have to cope with, where they will be playing five matches this month.
He said that with the busy schedule this month, it would be best to keep Bobby and Mohd Farid at bay to rest and recover.
“With two games a week, you can’t take a risk because the game is getting faster and more demanding all the time. Both Bobby and Mohd Farid are very doubtful at this stage of time.
“You can’t afford to have players playing while carrying an injury in a game because we don’t want to be without them for another four to five weeks. If they have another week off…maybe they will be ok to be playing the following weeks,” said Philips.
He said that the injuries to Bobby and Mohd Farid would give other players the opportunity to show what they can do.
When asked on whether he has made up his mind on who would be included in his first team, Gary said, “I think maybe five or six players have said yes they want to play but there are so many positions up for grabs”.
After their date with Felda FC, Sabah will meet Selangor PKNS in an away game on Jan 15, before taking on Harimau Muda at home on Jan 18.
They will then make an away trip to go against Armed Forces on Jan 22 before returning home to take on Johor MP Muar on Jan 29.