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Monday, November 05, 2007

Sumardi turns back on Rhinos

KOTA KINABALU: Sumardi Hajalan has turned his back on his State team Sabah for the new season.

Instead the Tawau lad has decided to extend his contract with his current team Johor FC, who will be playing in the Super League.

The national left-back, who initially had expressed his desire to make a return to the State team, quietly signed for Johor FC, behind the back of the Sabah FA, who was willing to listen to his demands.

The Rhinos’ team manager Rahman Zakaria told the New Sabah Times Sport yesterday that Sumardi is “history” as far as they are concerned.

“He was the one who contacted us expressing his desire to play for the Sabah team for the new season.

“We told him he was more than welcome to join the team. After the national team played their World Cup qualifying round late last month, he contacted us again that he wanted to play for Sabah.

“And we were willing to listen to his demands. However, when we tried to contact him (last week) we could not get in touch with him. We tried several times, but to no avail.

“A reliable source told us that he had signed for Johor FC.

“We will not stop him from playing for other teams, but the way he treated us was just unacceptable. I think, as a player, he needs to be more professional.

“If he received a better offer elsewhere, we would be more than willing to listen to him. We will not stop him from deserting the team because we know this is his rice bowl.

“But what irked us is the way he tried to hide from us because in the first place it was him who contacted us – wanting to play for the State team,” said Rahman.

Sumardi is the second ex-Rhino to have turned his back on the State team. The other one was Madzalan Emoi who ironically also signed for Johor FC.

Meanwhile, Rahman revealed that the Rhinos would start their season on December 17.

He said that the Premier League would only kick off after the Sea Games in Korat.

Rahman said they were informed about the postponement to the start of the new season during the team managers’ meeting held at the national capital on Saturday.

However, Rahman said that the Super League would kick off in November where two matches will be played during this month before taking a break during the Sea Games.

In another development, Rahman pointed out that for the new season, it is compulsory for all teams to play one Under-21 player for the entire match.

“The player (Under-21) must play for the whole 90 minutes. If we want to substitute him, we must substitute him with another Under-21 player. In case there is no under-21 player on the bench, then the team will have to play with 10 men,” said Rahman.

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