KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah FA is set to reinforce its squad with at least eight new signing, thus giving an impression that they are pretty serious in their bid to challenge for honours in the M-League next season.
Sabah is making a return to the Super League, the country’s top flight football action, after five long years plying their trade in the lower tier of the national League after being relegated in 2005.
And they want to mark their return with a bang, and also that they want to prove that they are not a one-year-wonder side.
Thus far, they have re-signed two former players in midfielder Zuraindey Jumai from Perlis, who left the squad two years ago, and leftback Sumardi Hajalan, who is also a reliable midfielder, from Johor FC.
The Tawau-born has been donning Johor FC colours since 2006.
And they are more to come with five of the possible signings are already training with the squad.
The younger sibling of the team’s number one custodian Azizon Abdul Kadir has been with the team since early this month and ironically that he is also a goalkeeper.
Johor FC’s M. Sivakumar, a midfielder, who could also play at the centre-back, is here.
The other one is former striker during Jose Garrido’s era in Jeremy Danker Matthew, who in fact, has been offered a contract, and that it is now only a matter of putting pens to paper.
“The offer is on the table, and it is up to him to take it. He is a good and reliable player, and can play in the centre, flank or from the midfield. I have received good feedback about the player.
“I think I can work on his fitness, and make him a better player,” said Sabah coach and manager Gary Phillip yesterday.
Stanley Bernard Samuel and Safuan Ibrahim were the latest to arrive (yesterday). Both are strikers, but Stanley looks to be the notable one.
The former national player had the experience of playing for an I-League outfit in India for a season before having a short stint with Indonesian club.
Prior to his daring moves to India, Stanley played for his home team Kuala Lumpur before signing for UPB-MyTeam.
As for Safuan, the Kelantanese played for Johor FC last season.
Gary is also trying to sign a high profile striker from Negeri Sembilan but the Aussie is tight-lipped on the identity of his target.
And that is not all as a former national goalkeeper Syed Adney Syed Hussein is also expected to come.
If he decides to sign for Sabah, then he will fight for the No 1 jersey with current top custodian Azizon Abdul Kadir and that leaves Gary to choose between the young Mohd Salawi Jasad and Azizon’s younger brother to be his number three.
Gary is not taking any chances, and that he is trying to strengthen all departments, including goalkeeping.
“We don’t want to see things that happen to Arsenal happening here,” he said.
At the backline, Gary is also still looking for one centre-back and a right back with his eyes set on a defender from Pahang.
“He has shown interest to play for us, but nothing has been finalized yet.
But while there are likely to be at least eight new faces, the FA is also likely to release the same number of players to accommodate the new players.
Three have been released earlier namely goalkeeper Mark Damun, flanker Billyton Vun Ket Ming and Zaykiel Leong. The trio, who are semi-pro players, will be ineligible for the Super League as it is only pro players.
And Gary hinted that he is going to release another three and it could happen this week.
However, an official announcement will only be made once the said players have been identified.