Kota Kinabalu: Former Sabah team manager Ronald Cooke made a strong call on Wednesday urging Sabah Football Association (Safa) to overhaul its committee completely.
He said Safa have only been blaming everyone else but themselves for the poor performance of the State team season in and season out, when commenting on the latest resignation of Sabah team coach David McCreery.
He said officials must be changed with new and young professional blood if Sabah wants to regain its past football glory.
Cooke said that there have been just too many excuses from Sabah FA officials for over the past two decades on the team’s failure but none of them have stood up to take the blame and make way for younger and enthusiastic officials.
“Players and coaches have come and gone, as well as the team managers but the same officials who have failed the association and Sabah meanwhile, have been sitting in the committee for nearly two decades,” he said.
Cooke said that Sabah FA must keep Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman as its president as it is important for the football association to get the support of the State Government in their bid to be a major football team in Malaysia.
“I believe that the deputy president and below should make way for younger blood to take Sabah out of the decades of rut,’ Cooke said, adding that they have overstayed their welcome.
Cooke, who was team manager when Sabah won the FA Cup in 1995 (the last major title ever won by Sabah), agreed with Safa’s Futsal and Beach Soccer committee chairman Yamani Hafez Musa that Sabah football requires a major transformation.
He said Yamani was right that proactive steps should be taken to put in place extensive changes for football in Sabah and everyone involved should be passionate about the game to bring about the changes.
“I believe everyone should take cue from Yamani who is young enthusiastic about bringing pride back to Sabah soccer,’ Cooke said in stressing that he personally believed that long serving officials in Sabah FA should let go their positions for the sake of the game.
“Musa as president is good. He carries the office of Chief Minister and brings with it a lot of help for the association and the game.
“For example, now with waning gate collections from home football matches, Safa needs help from the state to pay for their away trip matches and other expenses,’ Cooke added.
“Musa has a lot of other responsibilities and it is for the other officials to carry out the various tasks”.
“I don’t think the present bunch who has been sitting there for so long is a viable choice.
Musa needs a new group to push the association ahead. A change must take place now or we will hear the same story again and again on why we lose year in year out.”
Cook said younger and professional committee members like Yamani should be given greater responsibility in the association and bring about the transformation and bring back Sabahans interest in the game.
“Today, we don’t even have anymore household names of footballers that Sabahans could be proud off.
The interest in the Sabah team has died, no one talks about it anymore,’ he said referring to times when Sabah provided top national players.
With a new Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan, Cooke said that changes in Safa would augur well with the young minister’s aspiration to put Sabah back on the sports map in the country.
Meanwhile, former State President Cup coaches Faisal Yee (Lahad Datu), Rahman Madnoor (Tawau) and Sandakan coach Rusli Hasan as well as former State player Permando Paulus are among those who have responded to the statement issued by Yamani on Tuesday and they all basically gave the same view and support.