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Saturday, October 06, 2007

NO PLACE LIKE HOME


KOTA KINABALU: It is a case of “there is no better place than home” for national left-back Sumardi Hajalan as he is poised to make a comeback into the State team after one season with Johor FC.

The Tawau-born Sumardi has expressed his desire to don the Rhinos colours once again in the upcoming new season. Team manager Rahman Zakaria confirmed this to the New Sabah Times Sport yesterday. Based on Rahman’s conversation with the latter, the matter can be categorised as a done deal. “I have been keeping in touch with him a few times and the last time I spoke to him was yesterday. “And he still keeps his intention clear and that is that he wants to play for Sabah for the new season. “In fact he approached us not so long ago telling us that he wants to play for Sabah, and we told him we are more than happy to welcome him back into the team,” said Rahman.

Sumardi is currently with the national team on a friendly tour in Australia preparing themselves for the upcoming World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain (on October 21).

“Before the start of the just concluded season, he came to us and told us that he wants to look for greener pastures elsewhere. We obliged to his request and he eventually signed for Johor FC.

“Although it was a mere one season playing outside Sabah, I think he has learnt a lot outside. I can see that he is more professional now and a better player as well.

And Rahman said Sumardi, 22, will be a great asset to the team. Rahman is expecting Sumardi to be back home after Malaysia’s World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain. For the record, Sumardi is also part of the national Under-23 side which won the Merdeka Cup tournament recently. Malaysia will also be banking on the squad under B. Sathianathan for the Korat Sea Games in December. Rahman also revealed that another ex-Rhino – Eddie Gapil – is also expected to don the Rhinos colours. Eddie, who is also a former national Under-19 player, is currently attached to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM). For the new season, Sabah has retained 17 players for the new season, including Salvester Sindeh, David Johny and Ebby Roy Raimon, who was reinstated back into the squad.

However, the team is set to lose its former skipper Ronny Harun, who is expected to sign for treble winners Kedah. The rest of the players that have been retained include three local imports – Ahmad Tharmini Saiban, Chow Chee Wing and Rezuan Muhammad Radzy. The other players are all locals – skipper Rosdin Wasli, Zainizam Marjan, Bobby Gonzalez, Zulamri Muhammad, Azrul Ejati Damsah, Radzi Hussin, Irwan Jamil, Harold John, Charles Parsi and Henry Parsi.

Young goalkeeper Selawi Ahmad Jasad is also training with the team. Sabah are also in talks with two former national players in Rezal Zambery Yahya of Negeri Sembilan and Perak’s discard Wong Sai Kong.

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