Acid test for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah head coach and manager Gary Phillips is contemplating on making a ‘tactical change’ as he plots for a winning strategy against Kedah in the FA Cup first round tie on Tuesday.

And the home game would be a massive one for Gary, as the tie will not only be about the FA Cup match alone, but a clash that will also give his side a real test.

He is predicting the clash to be a tough one for them considering that their opponents are from the Super League and are currently riding high with a superb away record thus far in the season.


Gary said they certainly need to raise their game if they want to compete against a team like Kedah.

“Defensively we need to be more compact with good concentration. If we defend well and minimise our mistakes, it will be a good game.

“We also need to be more aggressive. We are a bit too slow at times … defensively or offensively, we have to be quick in our movement. We are also too ‘cute’ sometimes rather than doing things more direct.

Gary also said that they need to get rid of the ‘underdog mentality’ among the players, before wanting them to work their backsides up and start working hard for their money.

On his game plan, Gary said that he has got several options.

And it will be interesting to see how the Aussie is going to take the game, as all this while he has been seen deploying an offensive line up.

But against Kedah, he is aware that he cannot afford to do so, especially in this two-leg knockout competition.

Gary, who ditched his job as Coaching Development Manager with the Asian Football Confederation to take up the Sabah hot seat, is considering taking a cautious approach against the Canaries, as Kedah is famously known.

Gary hinted that he is likely to bring in experienced players in the likes of Rosdin Wasli in midfield or switching Mafry Balang to midfield and using Madzalan Emoi as cover for Mafry at right back, which are among the options he has in mind.

“Our midfielders are too soft, and against a team like Kedah, we need tougher guys in the middle of the park and we need more bite as well. I think Rosdin will start while Mafry could also play in the centre of midfield too.

He hinted that striker Zainizam Marjan could also be part of his plan.

“It will depend on our formation. I’m still considering whether to play five at the back or four at the back. We could also play five in midfield and play with one striker.”

Gary said that their main mission will be to win the tie, but how they are going to do it will be a different approach.

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