KOTA KINABALU: Justin Ganai has sent a friendly memo to the Sabahawks fans by urging them to pack the Likas Stadium when Sabah play host to Singapore’s Lions XII FC at the Likas Stadium on Saturday. He wants the crowd to become his ‘twelfth player’ as he searches for a back to back victory on home turf.
“It will be great to see a packed stadium. It has not been happening for a long time. So I am really looking forward for them to come in full force and rally the team to victory,” the Sabah head coach urged.
“This is our home turf, and a good turnout from the fans will surely give our team a lift in spirit, confidence and commitment … no doubt about that. At the same time, a good turnout could also intimidate the visiting team.”
Furthermore, Justin said they are facing a national side, and that Sabah has to utilise all that they have to humble their opponents.
Last Saturday, was a positive start to Sabah’s home campaign, not only because they won their battle over Borneo rivals Sarawak, but more to the presence of the crowd, which was estimated to be more than 5,000.
This was seen as their best ever attendance in their first home game of the season in recent times.
For the record, it has been more than a decade since we have not seen the Likas Stadium – Sabahawks home venue – packed to its capacity in a football match.
If one could remember, the last time the about 30,000 capacity Likas Stadium attracted a large crowd was when Sabah hosted the FA Cup final way back in 1998.
The Stadium was almost packed to its capacity, but unfortunately then we lost to the Southern State side 1-0 to eventually elude us of our second FA Cup title having won it for the first time in 1995.
Speaking to reporters at the team’s training at the UMS Stadium yesterday, Justin was also quite pleased with his two foreign signings, while hoping that they will get better.
Justin said he was impressed with his two foreign signings Michael William Baird and Brendan Gan’s work-rate and commitment thus far while expecting them to contribute more to the team.
“If they continue to work hard they can potentially become good players that will be adored by the fans, as was Scott Ollerenshaw during the former Rhino star’s heyday in the mid 90s,” said Justin.
“They are quality players who are committed to the team and passionate about the sport,” added Justin.
While Brendan has earned praises from the coach with his high work-rate, he recently showed his ability when he delivered a perfect ball forward to stun the T-Team defence and bring Justin to his feet in the dug-out.
And Justin is expecting more from his Aussie midfielder.
“He works hard on the field, that’s the main thing about him. He can be crafty too but I’ve never seen a more beautiful pass than the one he made to Bobby in our match against T-Team.
“If he continues to work hard the way he does, he will definitely improve and will be making more of those quality passes to our strikers,” said Justin.
On Michael, Justin is convinced, there is more to come from the much- travelled striker.
“He has the strength to deal with defenders, which makes him a valuable asset to the team. He already won the approval from the fans with his performance in the Crocs match last Saturday and I think his hunger for success will grow with the fans firmly behind him,” said Justin.
“We are only three games into the season, and from my observation, they need a little more time to adapt to our system. And once they have done that, they can do more for the team,” said Justin.