KOTA KINABALU: It could be a tricky year for Sabah FA as they bid to outperform their Borneo rivals on all fronts, Sarawak FA.
Last year, it was a mixed season for Sabah, as they performed admirably in the Malaysia Cup, but struggled immensely in the Super League. Trailing champions Kelantan by 28 points, Sabah eventually finished 10th with only seven wins throughout the season.
Nonetheless, the positive mood is high in their training camp this year, with some interesting signings being made by manager Shariman Abdullah and coach Justin Ganai.
They have snapped up the likes of Brendan Gan, Ronny Harun, Bobby Gonzales, Michael Baird and Irwan Jamill to bolster their current squad.
Gan will prove to be a valuable asset for the Sabahawks after impressing in the A-League with his dazzling performances week in, week out. The former New South Wales Premier League Player of the Year, will be joined by Michael Baird, who comes in from A-League side Central Coast Mariners.
Meanwhile, defender Ronny Harun was signed to ameliorate their defence. Harun, enjoyed a successful short spell with Terengganu FA, winning the FA Cup and emerging as runners-up in the Super League.
The Hawks’ attack looks competent with Gonzales and Baird upfront. However, their overall competency still appears to be a question mark for many, as we edge closer to the opening fixture of the Super League.
All looks fine in the Sabah camp after the 4-0 and 2-1 friendly wins, both against Brunei. Team manager Hj Shahriman Abdullah said that the State is up to the challenge when take on KL Felda United FC in the opener at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka tomorrow.
Head coach Justin Ganai said that the readiness of the team will be tested in the first three games of the season.
With the likes of Selangor, Kelantan, and Terengganu all posing serious threat in the league, Sabah will have to maintain their status as underdogs, and work hard to be more than just pushovers.
However, with likes of Baird upfront, we could very well see a surprising repeat of the Scott Ollerenshaw era.