KOTA KINABALU: Gary Phillips has challenged his young striker Leopold Alfonso Otong to prove his scoring prowess when he plays for the Reserve League squad in the President’s Cup challenge that kicks off on Feb 25.
Gary insisted yesterday that Leopold, who will be 19 on July 9, will have to prove his worth and score a lot of goals for the State Under-20 side before he could be given a second chance to play against the big boys in the Premier League.
“He needs to play a lot of games to get match fit. He needs a lot of match fitness and while he was with us, it did not help him at all because he didn’t respond well to our instructions.
“Maybe it’s because of the language barrier, but then again he is a young boy and we need to be patient. So the best solution is to give him enough matches to play because at his age, all he wants to do is to play.
“He needs to play and start learning. I’m very happy with Sabri (Sahar) and Ahmad (Saidi). They have been coping pretty well, but Leopold, he needs to start to get matured in his game and etc.
“I hope my decision to let him be part of the junior team will help him. And I also hope to see him scoring a lot of goals. And this will be a challenge for him and I hope and want to see that he is up for it.
“I’ll be watching him, and I will be in Tawau for the President’s Cup match,” said Gary.
“He has been given opportunities, but he has not been working hard enough for the team and is not helping the team at all.
Another player, Mohd Arfiyansah Abd Jafar has also been sent back into the President’s Cup squad.
“He has a long way to go into the first team, but for the moment, I think it is better for him to be with the junior side,” said Gary of Arfiyansah, who can play as a striker or midfielder.
For the record, Tawau has been given the honour to stage the President’s Cup where all matches will be played at the Tawau Sports Complex Stadium
Hj Hussin Hj Abdurahim is the team manager for the President’s Cup squad, while Mohd Shafri Mohd Salleh is his assistant.
Abdul Rahman Madnoor is the head coach and assisted by Adzrein Hassan, while the goalkeeper coach is Sjaifudin Abdul Wahid.
There will be 20 teams competing in the President’s Cup where the participating teams have been drawn into two groups.
Sabah is drawn in Group B alongside Selangor, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Melaka, Johor, Johor FC, Terengganu PBDKT and Bukit Jalil Sports School A.
Group A comprises reigning champions Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Perak, Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Shahzan Muda, Selangor PKNS and Bukit Jalil Sports School B.
Sabah will kick off their challenge by taking on Johor at home on Feb 25.