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Monday, December 17, 2007

‘We have a chance to end our title drought’


KOTA KINABALU: Dragic Dalibor believes the Rhinos have a decent chance to end their title drought!

The Bosnia-Herzegovina defender insists they have a side that is capable of achieving success, especially with the arrival of several new players, who he said would certainly strengthen the team for the new season.

“We have good players in the team, and I firmly believe that with hard work, sheer determination, and high spirit, we can do well this new season,” said Dragic, in his first interview with the local press since his arrival in the State at the start of the Malaysia Cup campaign last season.

Dragic who speaks little English needed the help of the Rhinos’ head coach Drago Mamic to make this interview possible.

Dragic said this time around, the Rhinos are more well-balanced adding that the competition in the team is even more competitive than last season.

“I’m proud and happy to be in the team. I’m very satisfied with what I’ve seen here … the set up and everything. So I really hope we will keep winning and do well and get promoted.

“We need to give something for the fans to cheer about, which I think they certainly deserve.

But as much as Dragic wants to play in Tawau, he said that it would be better if the Rhinos could play at the Likas Stadium.

“Without any disrespect to the fans in Tawau, I would really love to play at the Likas Stadium. I don’t know why, but I feel that it would be great if we could play at the Likas Stadium. I really hope the authorities concerned would sort out the problem at the Stadium,” said Dragic.

Dragic, 35, will surely be the livewire of the team.

He is one of the most experienced guys in the Rhinos’ defence, having the experience of playing in the UEFA Championships for several years.

This is his first outing in Asia and Sabah should be glad to have him in their team.

On Malaysian football, Dragic said that it is kind of funny to see that there is not much difference between the Super League and the Premier League.

“Honestly to me there is no difference. You can see this in the Malaysia Cup. For instance, last season, we were playing against so many Super League sides, including the champions Kedah as well as Perak.

“But when you look at the games that we played against them, you can’t see much difference between the two teams.

Nevertheless, Dragic said that the future for Malaysian football looks bright as long as the local players are willing to work hard to achieve success.

“It is very interesting to see that the local players here have explosive power. They have good speed as well. Maybe tactically they are still behind, but I believe that this will improve gradually with proper development programmes.

“For instance, in the team, we have players like Ejati (Azrul Ejati Damsah), Alif (Radzi Hussin) as well as Zulamri (Muhammad) who have explosive power as well as speed. I believe these players can even play in Europe, but before that they must keep improving their game,” Dragic said.

Dragic also loves it here in Sabah.

He said that here they have wonderful people and that he is planning to bring his family here.

On the team, he said that the arrival of players such as Jamie Phoenix, Nafuzi Zain, Wong Sai Kong as well as Zuraindey Jumai to name a few, would certainly give the Rhinos a chance to win silverware.

Glancing back at his career, Dragic, a father of a 10-year-old son, started his professional career with FC Borac in the Bosnian League. This is a club where he met former Sabah tough-tackling defender Veselin Kovacevic.

He said that he was Veselin’s junior at the club.

Dragic has also had stints with several top clubs in Europe and among them are FC Levski Sofia – former Bulgarian League champions.

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