Sabah – from no hopers to genuine title contenders

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah have emerged from a team of no hopers to genuine title contenders in the Premier League challenge.

They are currently second in the 12-team standings on 25 points, six behind league leaders KL Felda United FC.

Not many had expected them to be up there challenging for the crown at this point of time after picking up merely one point from their first three games, including two home ties.

They kicked off their challenge on a modest note after being held to a scoreless draw by KL Felda United.

That was followed by two consecutive defeats – away to Selangor PKNS and at home by Harimau Muda.

The two defeats gave an impression that it was going to be yet another disappointing year for the team that have been in the country’s second tier league for a record five consecutive seasons.

However, it proved to be a temporary setback for the Gary Phillips’ side as they went on to win their next three games – defeating Armed Forces (away), Johor MP Muar (home) and Shahzan Muda (away) before the league took a three-week break.

When the league resumed, Sabah’s fine run suffered a slight knock as they went down 0-2 to Sarawak in a Borneo Derby clash – no thanks to the long break, or rather their blunt finishing.

But Sabah made a quick rebound though as they won their next battle defeating Penang USM FC 2-0 at home.

From then on, there was no looking back for the Gary Phillips’ boys as they stretched their winning run to five in a row.

Their latest victory was the back-to-back wins over Police.

And now they are in a good position not only to fight for Super League promotion but also the Premier League crown.

And skipper Mohd Reithudin Ag Emran is calling on his team-mates not to waste the opportunity, but to fight their hearts out for glory.

“We are in a good position, but it is still a long way to go. Anything can happen in the next 10 matches, so it is important for us to keep working and improving,” the defender said.

“But I believe that this is going to be an interesting season for us, and as long as we can stay united and play as a team, I’m quite convinced we will have a good season.

“The way I see it, this team are getting better and better, and I hope I’m right because at the end of the day, it’s the end result that counts.

“The team have improved a lot under our new coach (Gary) and we are slowly adapting to the system he is implementing.

“We keep learning new things from him, and I firmly believe that given time, we will achieve something with this coach sooner rather than later.

“But I have a feeling that we will achieve something this season because when you look at the squad, we have the right attitude with some sort of a winning atmosphere in the team.

“Furthermore, everyone is fighting for a place for the first team or at least the first 16 or 18. This is good because it keeps you working hard all the time, be it in training or during matches. So this will eventually eradicate complacency among the players.

Sabah’s title credentials will be put to a real test on Monday when they take on KL Felda United on the road.

And Reithudin wants his team-mates to have the belief that this trip is not mission impossible, but something that they can accomplish.

“It is important for us to have the belief that we can go all the way. It is going to be a massive game, but we must face it with lots of confidence and determination.

“This is going to be an interesting tie and an important one too. Winning this one will give us a big boost ahead of our second big game of the week against Selangor PKNS (third placed),” said Reithudin.

Sabah are facing a defining moment in their challenge by taking on the top sides in the league.

After the two massive games against Felda and PKNS, they will face fifth placed Harimau Muda followed by the date with fourth placed Armed Forces.

5 thoughts on “Sabah – from no hopers to genuine title contenders

  • May 3, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Kalau Sabah promote liga super jgn lupa penuhkan stadium likas,biar pihak lawan gerun mghadapi pasukan kita…SAbAhAwK..!!!!!!

  • May 3, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    As a die-hard fan of Sabah team, I will be at the KL Stadium in Cheras
    tonight to watch our top-of-the-table clash with KL Felda United.

    I presume I will not be alone as many of the Sabahans working or studying in the Klang Valley will come to support our team, sometimes we out-numbered the home team supporters ( except against Selangor )like in the past matches.

    Hopefully, we will go home very happy with either a win or a draw.

  • May 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    yea go sabah…5 mei ni transfer season tuk liga malaysia, so harap SAFA dapt mencri seorng penyerang yg betl2 sesuai degn corak permainan sabah, sebb pasukn sabah mcm kurang tajam lg d bahgian serangan..harap rooni harun pun balik sabah..

  • May 4, 2010 at 8:42 am


  • May 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Jujur. Sudah lama saya x tingu2 ni pasukan kita ni. tingu EPL ja. beberapa tahun yg lepas kecewa ambil tau perkembangan dorg. tapi sejak akhir2 ni sy sedar yg kita msti sukung team(negeri) kita biar kalah atau menang. semangat tu akan buat sesuatu yg x kita sangka2 terjadi sama dorg(team). musim ni sy mula ambil perkembangan dari awal. selalu tingu soccernet di internet bila dorg lawan. sebb sy sikula d perantauan ni, negeri org. DAN sy bangga. more better game by game. hope dorg akan terus berjuang and capai kemenangan demi kemenangan, promote LS musim ni. GO SABAH GO

    P/S klu la pemain2 kita npk kata2 semangat, sokongan dan harapan kita semua di sini kan bagus. ^^

    LEARN TO BE FAITH even win or lose!

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