Looks like Sabah Football Association (SAFA) has an awkward problem in its hands and it comes from the most unexpected player – its star performer and main attraction El Hadji Diouf.
Fans of the state can already see it coming and it all started after Diouf started to hang around with the JDT team from the Superleague, bonding friendship with their then JDT President and Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
Diouf were even pictured together spending casual time with the rest of the players from the JDT team.
Immediately afterwards, Diouf spoke to the press, sowing seeds of discontentment by saying SAFA lack vision for the team. He said that he doesn’t know what the plans is in store for him with the team next year. He went on to say that usually with his other previous teams, he will know where he will be in 2 or 3 years from where he was but not with Sabah.
Diouf’s current contract runs until December 2015 but looks like he can’t wait to get on board with the other team. Reading between the lines he calls SAFA he is calling the team management as inexperienced and lacks understanding in managing a football team.
He gave SAFA another slap in the face when he didn’t show up for training for almost a week after the Hari Raya holidays. He only returned this week much to the anger of the SAFA management who immediately took away his captaincy.
This season was a roller coaster ride for the team and the fans, first they had problems with Andre Esposito though that was arguably caused by themselves who wanted to get rid of him in an unprofessional way. Then they sacked coach George O’Callaghan after only 3 months of employment and just before the season started.
They also removed Singaporean import Fazrul Nawaz who went AWOL during training.
This problem with Diouf however, could be SAFA’s biggest and most embarrassing blunder. It is almost a certainty that Diouf will not be playing for Sabah next season and SAFA has only themselves to blame that they let their star performer go on a free.
In 2016, Diouf will probably be playing in the Superleague with another team while Sabah, whom he was signed up to help them get promotion, is stuck in the Premier League.