In football as in life, sometimes its beneficial to reflect on the progress of the last 12 months and goals for the next 12 months. This gives us a reality check and helps mould the targets that await us in the future.
This time last year Sabah were languishing in the Malaysian Premier league (2nd Division) struggling to improve the mediocrity that had beset the team over the previous 6 years. Australian Gary Phillips had taken over the team with the mandate being to obtain promotion into the Super League (1st Division).
A combination of raising standards and getting some structure & discipline into the team saw Sabah go on a great run in 2010 and gain promotion to the Super League. Fast forward one (1) year and Sabah find themselves in the Super League coming up against the Malaysian powerhouses such as Selangor, Kelantan & Negri Sembilan to name a few.
However, as is so often the case in Professional Football the world over, life has become a lot tougher for our beloved Hawks. The slightest mistake is being punished as the reality of playing in the Super League has hit home. While 4 points from a possible 15 does not make happy reading, the reality is that our 3 losses have been by just the one goal. Furthermore, we have only conceded 3 goals from 5 games which is testament to a well organized team. However, with 1 goal in 5 games you don’t have to be Einstein to work out where the problem lies.
There are no easy answers on how to score goals – the only solution lies with working hard on the training pitch and trying to instill confidence into the players. Our offensive players cannot be scared to miss chances – accept mentally that you will not score goals with every chance that comes your way. However, keep taking up good positions and getting shots on target and the law
of averages suggest the goals will start going in.
So lets fast forward 5 months from here – where do we want to be ? History tells us promoted teams do not win silverware the following year, it just does not happen. A mid table finish at the completion of this years Super league will be a fantastic achievement for our first year back in the big League. After that, we ascertain the strengths & weakness of the squad and what
improvements need to be made and just maybe we can become contenders in 2012. Now that’s reality and an achievable target – I guess they call it progress.
REMEMBER RON SMITH
For those off you who follow the Hawks with long memories, I am sure many of you will remember Ron Smith – the man who brought glory to Sabah Football by bringing home the 1996 Division One League title.
Upon leaving Malaysia Ron coached in the Professional Australian League (A-League) with Perth Glory before joining Football Australia (FFA) as their video technical analysis. He has been to the last two World Cups as part of the Socceroos entourage in what has been a truly exciting period, not only for Ron but for the Socceroos in general.
Part of the reason for Ron’s success here in Sabah was his teaching ability. He was calm with the players and methodically went through each players specific individual job as well as the collective job of the group as a whole. There was no swearing or cursing at the players which gave him a great repoire with the lads on an individual basis.
Unfortunately, due to various reasons Ron only spent two and a half years with the team meaning the team of 96 never reached its full potential. In many ways our current coach Gary Phillips reminds me a lot of Ron Smith in both his coaching methods & personality. Undoubtedly, Gary has done a fantastic job here in Sabah by achieving what no other coach over the last 6 years could – promotion. Lets hope Gary spends a lot more time coaching Sabah than Ron did and that the team of 2010/11 is given the time and pathway to create some much needed stability in Football within Sabah.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HOTS UP
For the Football purists there is no doubt in my mind that the Champions League provides the best standard that Football has to offer. It brings together the best players in World Football all playing for the biggest clubs in huge Stadiums.
No doubt, the World Cup cannot be matched for drama and bringing individual countries to a standstill as they watch their countries fortunes, however, if its quality your after, the Champions League cannot be matched. Game one (1) of the two legged Round of 16 knockout stage has just been completed and I cant wait for the return legs in a few weeks game when the following
questions will be answered;
- Can Leonardo lead defending Champions Inter Milan to an unlikely victory away to Bayern
Munich after losing the First Leg 1-0 at home.
- Will the kids at Arsenal outplay the masters of Barcelona with the classic passing game away
from home having won the First leg 2-1.
- Can Tottenham maintain their ascendency at home having defeated AC Milan 1-0 away from
- Will Man Utd breakdown the stubborn Marseille defence and stay in contention for the League &
Champions League double.
Should be fascinating to watch as it all unfolds on March 08, 09, 15, 16.