KOTA KINABALU: Sabah coach and manager Gary Phillips is living on ‘borrowed time’ with the side that he guided to promotion last season.
It could all end for the Aussie, who is into his second season with the State senior side, if they fail to earn a desirable result, to be exact a simple win, over Kedah in a Malaysian Super League tie at the Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Setar tonight.
The State squad is currently rooted second from bottom and is on a losing streak.
They lost their last four outings, and a fifth consecutive defeat may not go down well with his employer, the Sabah FA, as if it happens it will be their eighth, after 16 matches.
It could also see Sabah trailing by seven points from the safe zone, should Kuala Lumpur, who is currently ahead by four points win their battle over Selangor at home.
Sabah merely managed to pick up 11 points from two wins and five draws.
The FA knows too well that dropping more points will only point to demotion and it is about time for them to press the panic button.
There have been calls from some quarters for changes to be made into the State senior side, including for changes to the coaching staff.
The New Sabah Times Sports believed that Gary’s assistant Mark Jones, was the first casualty, although at press time there was no official announcement from the Sabah FA.
Mark was removed prior to the home tie against Terengganu.
To make it certain, it was learnt that Mark was not part of the travelling squad for the two consecutive away trips, where Sabah bowed out 0-3 to Johor FC in their first of the two away ties.
Surprisingly, Reserve League head coach Justin Ganai and two of his players Rozaimi Abd Rahman and Arizal Ibrahim were also part of the senior side that made it to Johor FC and Kedah.
While the odds are against them, but if Sabah is to play their hearts out, this is one game that could get them all three points.
Furthermore, the unpredictable Kedah is one of the two sides that they have managed to pick up full points.
Having said so, Kedah seems to be a rejuvenated side since being under the watchful eyes of newly appointed chief coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan.
Kedah have had an up-and-down campaign that cost Ahmad Yusof his job and replaced by Wan Jamak, but, they could still fashion eight wins and three drawn matches.
On 27 points, Kedah trail the two top teams Kelantan and Selangor by six points and third placed Terengganu by five points.
If Sabah were to beat Kedah, they must take inspiration from their narrow 1-0 win over Kedah in the first round of the campaign at the Likas Stadium.
Striker Md Farid Ideris volleyed home the winner in the match, which Sabah could have won with a better scoreline had midfielder Sumardi Hajalan’s penalty not come off the posts.
For the record, Sabah are playing in the Malaysian Super League for the first time in five seasons, having gained promotion courtesy of a second placing in the Premier League last season.