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Monday, September 24, 2007

FA RETAINS DRAGO


KOTA KINABALU: Drago Mamic has been retained as the Rhinos head coach for another season.

The Sabah FA is still keeping their faith in the Croatian to bring back glory to the State after a season of mixed fortunes.

While it may be mission unaccomplished in the Premier League as the Rhinos merely managed to finish in a disappointing sixth among the 11 competing teams, they did considerably well in two Cup competitions.

They reached the FA Cup quarter-finals and made it to the Malaysia Cup semi-finals.

But the plus point for Drago is that he succeeded in grooming home-grown talents in the likes of Zulamri Muhammad, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Mohd Radzi Hussin as well as Hardy Charles Parsi.

Sabah FA Executive Secretary Harry Baking yesterday confirmed that Drago will still be the man they will be counting on to turn their fortunes around for the better in the upcoming new season that is expected to kick off in early November.

He said this when met after the team management’s meeting yesterday. Harry added that Khairul Azman Mohd will remain as Drago’s assistant. Drago is currently on holiday back home and will return only next month.

In a related development, Harry revealed that they have decided to release seven players from their current squad, including two local imports and another two foreign imports, while the other three are all locals.

Those given the boot are goalkeeper G. Jeevanatham and left-back S. Sunder (local imports) and Clarrey Tabad, David Johnny and Ebby Roy Raimon (all locals).

The two foreign imports – Brazilian striker Felisberto De Oliveira and Bosnian defender Dragic Dalidor – also found their stints with the team a short one as the FA decided not to renew their three-month contracts.

Nigerian striker Charles Obi is likely to be retained. However, his future with the team will depend on the progress of his broken arm after he was involved in a car accident about 10 days ago or so.

“It will take him six to 10 weeks to recover from the injury. He has eight screws in his broken left hand, so we will have to keep tabs on his development,” said Harry.

The fates of two other local imports – flanker P. Rajesh and left-back Munir Amran are also still uncertain as their cases have been put on hold until further discussion, while veterans Burhan Ajui and Henry Soimpon will be offered coaching roles by the Sabah FA.

The rest of the players have been retained, including three local imports in Chow Chee Wing, Ahmad Tharmini Saiban and Rezuan Muhammad Radzy.

On the local front those that have been retained are two young goalkeepers – Irwan Jamil and Harold John.

Azrul, Hardy, Mohd Radzi, Zulamri as well as Henry Parsi will also have their one-year contracts renewed.

The same goes for the seniors such as skipper Rosdin Wasli, Ronny Harun, Zainizam Marjan and Bobby Gonzalez.

Commenting on Burhan and Henry, who will be offered coaching roles, Harry said: “We think this will be the right time for them to start to go into coaching. We hope they will consider our offer. They will not necessarily be involved in the senior team, but they could start with our junior teams.”

Harry said the team will resume training today with Khairul Azman Mohd taking charge until the arrival of Drago.


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