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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blow for Rhinos

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah are certain to lose midfielder Eddie Gapil and striker Salvester Sindeh for the new M-League campaign. This is following Police’s decision to call their servicemen to represent the squad after failing to renew their ties with their main sponsor Inai Kiara, for the new season.

It is believed that for the just concluded season, Police were backed by a RM5 million sponsorship by Inai Kiara. And for the new season, Police look set to release their current players.

Its coach K. Thaiyananthan was quoted as saying that they would field a new line-up that would be made up of police personnel from throughout the country.
If this is the case, both Sabah-born Eddie and Salvester would make it into the Police squad as they are policemen by profession.

Sabah FA (Safa) Executive Secretary Harry Baking, when contacted, said the situation was inevitable after Police were reported to want them back. “We (Sabah FA) have no choice but to release them. We cannot do anything because they must serve their employer first,” said Harry yesterday. Harry went on to say that Salvester and Eddie played for Sabah last season after failing to secure a place in the Police squad last time around.

The news could be a blow to the Rhinos as Eddy had fit in well in the holding midfielder role, while Salvester had an impressive strike rate in all competitions for Sabah.

On the current squad, Harry said that they will not stop any players from wanting to join other teams next season. However, he said that if any of the players plan to leave the Rhinos, they must do it through the proper channel.

“At the same time, we will also welcome back players who wish to play for Sabah provided that they fit into the team criteria,” he added. Sabah will play in the Premier League, the Second Division competition in the M-League – for a record fourth consecutive season.

The new campaign, which will start in January, will also see an all-local player’s competition with the FA of Malaysia (FAM) implementing the ‘no foreign players’ ruling.

“We will have a clearer view of the Sabah squad after the Hari Raya festival,” added Harry.

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