KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah FA is appealing to the fans for support when Sabah kick start their Premier League 2010 challenge against Felda United FC at the Likas Stadium on Monday.
Its Secretary General Alijus Haji Sipil yesterday humbly urged the fans to come and give a new-look Sabah side the much needed support.
“We have done what we could in our preparations, including hiring a new coach,” said Alijus, referring to their new man Gary Philips who has been appointed as the FA Technical Director of Football cum Head Coach for the senior side.
“We want to do well and it must start from the first game. And it is our hope to see the fans play their role and support the team right from the start until the final game of the season,” Alijus added.
Australian Gary has also been named as the team manager for the team.
Gary is assisted by Justin Ganai, who has also been named as the assistant team manager.
This will be Sabah’s fifth consecutive season playing in the lower division.
Alijus insisted that the changes that have been brought into the team are aimed at ending Sabah’s era of playing in the national second tier competition.
“Our main mission will be to earn promotion to the Super League in 2011 … that will be our top priority this season. It is not going to be easy, but we believe that we can do it,” said Alijus.
Although the team have not performed so well in the past seasons, but this time around, Alijus said it is going to be different.
“We have a new management headed by our honourable Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman with a new management style, philosophy, and mentality.
“We have also brought back several of our former players into the team and signed a good striker (Mohd Farid Ideris) from Johor FC.
Mohd Farid is the only local import in the team this new season, otherwise Sabah will be an all-local side.
“We also believe that Gary and Justin are a winning combination. While Gary will bring in new ideas into the team, Justin on the other hand is a vastly experienced man as far as the national football scene is concerned,” said Alijus.
Furthermore, he added that they have looked into the cause of the problems in the past.
“We have tried our best in identifying the roots of the problems in the past and try to rectify it.
But Alijus added the FA cannot be left alone in reviving Sabah’s declining state in the game, insisting that the fans can play a crucial role in the success of the squad this new season.
Among the ex-players making a comeback into squad are strikers Bobby Gonzales, Razlan Otto, defenders Madzalan Emoi, Md Reithuddin Awang Embran, Mohd Shahrul Azhar Ture and goalkeeper Mark Damun to name a few.