KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah senior squad has been told to play smart and play to their best abilities while donning the State’s colours at the upcoming M-League 2012 campaign.
“When you play for Sabah, we expect the best from you. You must play smart as well,” Sabah FA Deputy President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang said after chairing the FA’s executive committee meeting that was followed by the contract signing ceremony at their office in Likas yesterday.
He also told the players that the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman, who is the Sabah FA President, is expecting them to do well in all competitions.
Discipline on and off the field, Gimbang stressed is important and that it must be adhered to at all times.
“And if there is an opponent tackling or punching you during a game, you must not retaliate, as it could put you in trouble as well. So you must play smart and not fall to the opponent’s prey,” said Gimbang.
Gimbang said they are also seeking the players to give their fullest commitment to the team, before adding that they have every reason to try to do their best since this is their bread and butter.
Furthermore, Gimbang said most of the players are highly paid, and that some of them are paid better than that of an assemblyman.
“The people of Sabah are watching, and they know who are not giving their best. We hope you understand.
In football, Gimbang stressed there is no substitude for victory and that the team must try to win all matches.
“If you keep winning, people will come and support you. And if you lose, people will start to lose interest in the game.
“There are some people telling me that they no longer come to the Stadium because the team is not winning. So I want you all to prove them wrong and start winning matches next season.
“As I have said earlier, the Chief Minister has high hopes the team will do well next season, and let’s make it happen,” said Gimbang, while reminding the senior players to lead the young players through their experience.
Yesterday, the executive committee endorsed the recommendation made by the team management committee headed by Vice President I Datuk Osman Jamal, regarding the Sabah squad for the new season.
As reported earlier, Justin Ganai will be the head coach while Andrew Majanggim is the assistant coach. Johnny Dominicus will also be part of the coaching staff, but he is likely to be given the coaching job with the President’s Cup squad, which will also likely be under Justin’s supervision.
Khairul Azman Mohd has also been retained as goalkeeper coach while Matlan Basir as team physiotherapist, and Sulaiman Arman as the team’s fitness coach.
For the new season, Sabah will be banking on a squad of 27 players.
Of the 27, five are new faces, including two foreign signings, striker Michael Baird and midfielder Brendan Gan, while another four ex players are making a comeback into the team.
The three new players are Juffry Omopor from Pensiangan and Naim Ahmad from Putatan while Shahrudin Yaakub from Labuan last played for KL Sime Darby.
The four ex-players who are set to make a return into the State squad are home born Ronny Harun, Bobby Gonzales, Irwan Jamil, and Mohd Fariss Azlan Mat Isa from Kedah, who has gained a permanent move from Penang USM FC.
The rest that have been retained from this season’s squad are Azizon Abd Kadir, Syed Adney Syed Hussein, Mod Reithuddin Emran, Mafry Balang, Rosdin Wasli, Sumardi Hajalan, Alto Linus, Zuraindey Jumai, Radzi Mohd Hussin, Shahrul Azhar Ture, K. Thanaraj, Zainizam Marjan, Julamri Muhammad, Leopold Alfonso Otong, Sabri Sahar, Mohd Safuan Ibrahim and Razlan Oto.
Md Rozaimi Abd Rahman has also been promoted from the President’s Cup squad.
But Rozaimi together with Leopold and Sabri will still be registered with the President’s Cup squad.
Vice President I Datuk Osman Jamal, Vice President II Datuk Yusof Kassim, Treasurer AR Haji Shahriman Abdullah, who has been retained as the team manager, Secretary General Alijus Hj Sipil and Head Coach Justin Ganai as well as the FA’s Executive Secretary Hasbullah Yahya were also present at the function.