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Saturday, October 20, 2007

WELL BELOW PAR


KOTA KINABALU: The Rhinos are still searching for top foreign signings to strengthen its squad for the new season that is expected to kick off about one month from today.

Although more than half a dozen foreign players have turned up for trials with the team, but it seems that none of these players – from Cameroon, Nigeria as well as from Brazil – have impressed the team selectors, including head coach Drago Mamic. Time may be running out fast ahead of the kick-off (Premier League) on November 19, but Drago insists he will not settle for any foreign players just for the sake of completing the foreign quota (three) in the team. “I would rather opt not to play with foreign players if we cannot find any quality players who can fit into the team. “These players or player must show us that they are a class above the rest of the locals that we have. If they can’t do that I don’t see any logic why we should sign them.

“Without any disrespect to those who have come, I’m sorry to say that most of the local players that we have are better than them,” said Drago. The Rhinos are looking for either one or two more foreign players to beef up the team. Bosnian defender Dragic Dalidor is the only foreign signing who is almost certain to don the State colours again after signing for the team late last season. He is expected to arrive here within the next one or two days.

Nigerian striker Charles Obi, who emerged as the team’s top scorer last season with 25 goals in all competitions, is also set to continue his ties with the team. However, his contract extension will very much depend on his recovery as he is now recuperating from a broken arm after being involved in a car accident. If he passes the medical, then he would be retained for another season. If this is the case then Sabah will need to look for the third foreign signing. Assistant team manager Firdaus Datuk Anifah Aman said that there are two or three more foreign players coming to attend trials with the Rhinos, including former Flamengo striker Flavio Barros Souza Nascimento (check him out – YouTube)

“We know time is running out fast, but we will make sure that we will sign the right players for the team,” said Firdaus. “We have no worry as far as the hiring or signing of foreign players is concerned. We have Dragic coming and we hope Obi will make it too, so obviously this does not concern us.

“We will keep searching until we find the quality foreign player in question. The Rhinos played their first friendly match of the season against a local club side – BAT 21 – at the Penampang Stadium yesterday. They cruised to a 3-0 victory over the relatively unknown side. But the result is not what Drago is looking at as he let the players play with freedom or rather their best.

The four foreign players attending trials with the team were also tested, but with the exception of a Nigerian striker, the remaining three are likely to pack their bags.

As for the Nigerian, he is expected to be given more time to prove his worth.

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