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Saturday, November 03, 2007

SABAH EYEING TOP CROATIAN STRIKER


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is eyeing one of the top strikers in the Croatian First Division League. The New Sabah Times Sport can confirm that negotiations are ongoing with the striker in question. If the deal materialises, this is going to be a big catch for the Sabah FA, at least according to the Rhinos’ head coach Drago Mamic, who personally recommended the player.

“He is one of the top strikers in the Croatian League. I know him personally, but I’m not going to reveal his identity until everything is finalised,” Drago said. “At the moment, I can rate the negotiations as 70 percent done,” he added. According to Drago, he has the blessings from the team management as well as the FA’s top brass in negotiating with the player. “I’m getting very good support from the management as well as the President. They have given me a free hand, and I hope this deal will go through. Drago also hinted that besides the said player, a Serbian striker is also expected to be here for trials. As for the former Flamengo striker Flavio Barros as well as former Brazilian midfielder Zee Alias, both players are unlikely to come due to the fault of their agents.

Meanwhile, Drago said that the team’s preparations will go on as planned despite a possible postponement to the start of the new season. He said that he only needs to make a little adjustment if the Premier League kicks off in December instead of this month. On the possible postponement, he said that there is the positive effect as well as the negative effect.

The positive effect, he said, is that it will give all teams more time to prepare while the negative effect is that it might see tight fixtures for the new season. “Like the recent season, playing seven or eight games was just too taxing for the players. So I would rather start the season early than having to play seven to eight matches in a month.

Nevertheless, Drago said that he will leave it to the authority to decide, pointing out that what is important is for the team to prepare well ahead of the new season.

On the Rhinos’ upcoming friendly games against DPMM of Brunei on Nov 4 in Labuan and a club from Indonesia in Tawau on Nov 10, Drago said he will be using the two matches to fine tune the team. See Page 29

“I’ll be looking at technical and tactical aspects of the game. From now on we will be working on these areas,” he said. He also said that for the new season, he is not going to stick to one system, pointing out that he is still working on the best system that suits the players best. “This is not a mere one job because when you look at the players, some of them play well in the 4-4-2 formation but some play better if we play the 3-5-2 formation.

“So for the time being, we will play a few formations from 4-4-2, 3-5-2 and 3-4-3. It will depend on the availability of the players. “However, I will be looking to find a system that we will be sticking to, but this cannot be done in six months, as it takes some time to master it,” Drago said. Overall, Drago is happy with the development of the team thus far ahead of the new season.

Drago together with team manager Rahman Zakaria as well as the FA Executive Secretary Harry Baking will head to Kuala Lumpur today to attend the managers’ and coaches’ meeting.

The draw for the new season would also be held today.

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