KOTA KINABALU: Goal-shy Sabah will be given a boost in attack by Zainizam Marjan’s return to the squad from injury.
The former international was part of the senior side that played a friendly game against the Reserve League squad at field B in Likas last Monday that also saw Sabah coach and manager Gary Phillips in action.
And Zainizam completed the game without much trouble or complaints, an indication that he is on the road to a full recovery.
Zainizam, who turns 30 next May 11, played no part in the team’s first four matches of the season due to an injury on the lower part of his stomach.
When contacted yesterday, Zainizam insisted that he is now ready to play his role in the team.
“I still feel a bit of pain, but after playing for a while, the pain is gone,” said Zainizam, who slotted the opener with a grounder from just outside the box against the State Under-20 side that will take part in the President’s Cup challenge that kicks off next month.
“I’m ready to play my part now, but then again it will all depend on the coach. He has not said anything to me yet, but if he wants me to play or be part of the squad, I will not hesitate to say yes,” Zainizam added.
Zainizam will be an option for Gary when Sabah takes on lowly Johor MP Muar at home on Friday.
He is likely to make it at least into Gary’s first-18 squad for the 8.15pm showdown against the Premier League newcomers.
Sabah’s finishing has been unconvincing since the start of the league where they merely managed to register an average of 0.75 per cent goals per match.
They have scored a mere three goals after 360 minutes of action with Alto Linus (two) and Henry Parsi (one) as the contributors.
And Zainizam is the most senior and experienced striker in the State squad, and will play an important role for the team, and is seen to be the man that can show them the way to end their misery in attack.
For the record, Zainizam had a stint with the national team in the early 2000s, but injury forced him out from the national side that saw him sidelined from the sport for almost one season
And Zainizam’s return could not have come at a better time, as Gary is already without one of his top strikers – Bobby Gonzales, who is recuperating from a groin injury.
Midfielder Radzi Mohd Hussin and defender Gasili Pengalot are the other two players in the team’s crocked list. Both players are having hamstring problems.
The rest of the strikers in the squad are Mohd Farid Ideris, Razlan Otto, Leopold Alfonso Otong, Azrul Ejati Damsah and Alto.
Except for Azrul and Zainizam, the rest had featured for the squad either as first-team players or as substitutes this season.