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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First real test

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Justin Ganai will be using their scheduled three friendly games against neigbouring Sarawak to fine tune his side ahead of the big kick off on January 10.

Sabah will meet fellow Super League outfit Sarawak three times, twice in Kuching and once in Kota Kinabalu.
The first of the three ties will be played at the Sarawak Stadium tonight and the second one two days later before the date at the Likas Stadium, which is scheduled for December 27.

Sabah head coach Justin Ganai said this was a long awaited chance to finally test his side that has been pounding their opponents in a series of friendly matches against local clubs, with their latest victim being Kota Belud Selection, who succumbed to a 10-1 defeat over the weekend.

“After waiting for so long, our chance to finally test the squad has finally arrived. I hope that the match tomorrow (tonight) will give some insight on the team’s true ability,” said Justin.

“Our objective is to find out our strengths and weaknesses so we can make adjustments before the start of the season.

“Before this we only played against local teams, which could not really give a fair assessment of our performance. The match tomorrow will give us this opportunity,” he said when contacted here yesterday.
With the exception of the crocked flanker Alto Linus and Julamri Muhammad, the rest of the squad made it to Kuching.

The State squad left on an 8am flight to Kuching yesterday morning.
“I admit, the two matches in Kuching and one in Likas are not enough, but it is better than none.
“The management has done the best they can. They faced a few technical problems in our arrangements to go to Kuala Lumpur, so this will have to do.

This would be an interesting test for Sabah, as for the new season, Sarawak, who is under the watchful eyes of Robert Albert, have reinforced its squad with two foreign signings and nine local imports.
Heading the new line-up will be Cameroon imports – defender Guy Bwele from Cotonsport and striker Kalle Sone Masue who last played for Romanian club CV Otopeni.

The nine new local imports are goalkeepers Saiful Amar Sudar (Selangor) and Sani Anuar Kamsani (MP Muar); defenders Yosri Derma Raju (Selangor) and Ramesh Lai Ban Huat (KL Felda Utd FC); midfielders Mohd Azizan Baba (Johor FC), Rajan Koran (KL Felda Utd FC) and Depan Sakwati Kandasamy (Selangor), and forwards Ravindran Krishnan (Harimau Muda A) and Mohamad Rashid Mohamad Aya (Johor FC).

On the other hand, Sabah hired two Aussies – striker Michael Baird and midfielder Brendan Gan, who has Malaysian blood.
At the same time, they have also welcomed back former players – former international Ronny Harun and Bobby Gonzales to name a few.

They also roped in raw talents such as Juffry Omopor from Pensiangan, Labuan’s Shahrudin Yakup and Naim Ahmad from Putatan.
Defender Mohd Fariss Azlan Mat Isa and goalkeeper Irwan Jamil are also among ex-players to make a comeback into the State squad.

The rest that have been retained from this season’s squad are Azizon Abd Kadir, Syed Adney Syed Hussein, Mod Reithuddin Emran, Mafry Balang, Rosdin Wasli, Sumardi Hajalan, Alto, Zuraindey Jumai, Radzi Mohd Hussin, Shahrul Azhar Ture, K. Thanaraj, Zainizam Marjan, Julamri M, Leopold Alfonso Otong, Sabri Sahar, Mohd Safuan Ibrahim and Razlan Oto.

Md Rozaimi Abd Rahman is also in the team after gaining promotion from the President’s Cup squad.
Sabah is scheduled to begin their 2012 Super League challenge on the road against KL Felda United FC on January 10.
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