|ALL SET … Gimbang, (3rd left), welcomes Inglis, as the rest from left, Mohd Joh, Alijus and the FA Executive Secretary Hasbullah Yahya look on.|
Speaking at a press conference here yesterday, the Sabah FA Deputy President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang said the visiting QPR will be here for five days. “They are expected to arrive here on July 14 and would leave for their next stop on July 18. “While in Sabah, we will organise several events and activities for them.
Besides the match on July 17, we will also be holding a Gala Night, which is to be held at the Sutera Harbour on July 16 at 7pm. “On July 16, we will also hold a meet-the-fans session at their base – Sutera Harbour. The exact venue will be announced later,” said Gimbang.
The FA Secretary General Alijus Hj Sipil, Sabahawks Fan Club President Mohd Joh Wid and QPC Interim Commercial Director Euan Inglis were also present at the function. “We will be selling tables for the Gala Dinner, and those who wish to be part of the occasion can get the details from the Sabah FA office,” Gimbang added.
Gimbang said that the Sabah FA President, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman will be the guest of honour at the function, while hinting that QPR owner Tan Sri Tony Fernandes is also expected to be present. He went on to say that for the clash, Sabah Selection will be beefed up by players from surrounding countries.
“We will be having players from Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore,” said Gimbang, adding that among the players they have in mind are Indonesian international Titus Ponai, and ex-Rhino Robbie Gaspar, who is currently playing in Indonesia. “We are also likely to call up players from Singapore and from the Philippines apart from some of our national players (Malaysia) as well as from our current squad,” said Gimbang.
As for players from Singapore, it was reported that defenders Baihakki Khaizan and Shaiful Esah are the two that have been invited to play for the Sabah Selection. Asked on the tickets, Gimbang said that they have decided to sell tickets priced at RM30 for open terrace, RM50 for uncovered grandstand, and RM100 for covered grandstand. He said tickets will be available soon.
“Besides at the stadium, on match day, tickets are also available at the FA office or online,” added Gimbang. Meanwhile, Inglis, on behalf of the club, said that they are pretty much excited about coming to Sabah. He said that the club will be coming with its big games, including two of its new signings in goalkeeper Robert Green and Andy Johnson.
Inglis added that QPR nicknamed the Hoops, who is being managed by former Manchester United great Mark Hughes, will also have the likes of Bobby Zamora, Cisse, Shawn Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand to name a few, in their side. However, controversial midfielder, Joey Barton, who recently had been stripped of the club’s captaincy, is unlikely to be part of the pre-season tour.
“I’m not too sure about that (Joey making the trip), but the rest of the big name players will be coming,” he said. After the Sabah date, QPR will continue their Asian pre-season tour by taking on Kelantan before heading to Indonesia where they will take on Persebaya Surabaya.