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Friday, July 13, 2012

Major boost for Sabahawks

New Sabah Times
NEW MAN … Osman, (left), unveils McCreery during the function. The rest are, from left, Gimbang, Nizam, Yahya and Hasbullah.
KOTA KINABALU: The demoralised Sabahawks have been given a major boost in their bid to avoid relegation. Yesterday, the Sabah FA not only announced the appointment of a new head coach for the team, but they also pledged to stick to the same squad for the new season should they survive the relegation battle!  

“If we stay in the Super League, we will maintain the same squad for the new season … and will only add a few more new faces to strengthen the squad,” said Datuk Osman Jamal. The FA Vice President I cum Treasurer said this during a meeting with the team held at the FA’s office in Likas yesterday.

 During the function, Osman, who is also the chairman of the team management committee, also officially unveiled the new coach for the team. They have turned to Northern Ireland man David McCreery to save their season. The former Manchester United, Newcastle, and Queens Park Rangers (to name a few) player, arrived in the State Capital on Thursday and sealed an undisclosed one-year deal with the FA almost immediately.

 McCreery, who was accompanied by his agent Eddy Jagan Abdullah, was supposed to arrive last week, but due to some unforeseen circumstances with his former club in Myanmar, there was a slight delay on his arrival. Sabah, who is certain to finish 12th among all the local teams in the Super League, will be involved in a relegation playoff with three other teams.

Winning the playoff will see them stay in the Super League. The other teams in the playoff are Kedah and Premier League runners-up Pahang while the third team is likely to be Sarawak. However, they still can avoid the playoff should they win their final battle against Kelantan and at the same hope that matches involving teams like KL Felda United, Johor FC and Selangor PKNS favour them. Osman said they leave it to the players to decide the team’s destiny, before insisting that the FA has done all they could for the team. 

“We have done everything for the team. We have been looking for financial support and have been paying salaries on time. We are also giving away bonus, we also pray for the team’s success, but now we all know that we are in a dangerous position. “Nevertheless, we still have the chance to at least stay in the Super League next year through the playoff.

That is the reason why we engaged a new coach with the hope that it will change our fortunes for the better,” said Osman. “So now it is up to you all (the players) to decide whether we want to have the Super League status or the Premier League status. Osman hoped that McCreery’s experience could help the team from the drop, while wanting the players to give their fullest cooperation to the new coach.

 “There are another four days left before the playoff. The management has done its responsibility. And now the fate of the team lies with the players. “Nobody can help the team apart from God and yourselves (players). Now it is you who will decide the team’s destiny … whether we remain in the Super League or otherwise.

 Osman stressed that even if they fail in the playoff they will not back down, and instead will rebuild a better team in order to make a quick return to the Super League. “But for now, I want the team to forget everything else and to focus on the playoff. Osman also wants the players to be honest in whatever they are doing.

 He said: “There is nothing left for the team other than to fight for pride.” “If it is possible, we don’t want to be part of a team that disappoints the Sabah people. (Personally) I don’t want to be part of a sinking ship. But there is no point for us to talk about spilt milk because what is important now for us is to win this battle,” said Osman while wanting the players to stay together as one big team in this fight for survival.

 Deputy President Datuk Lawrence Gimbang, who was also at the function, also expressed his disappointment with the team. “The team’s predicament now is disappointing everyone, including our President Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa (Haji Aman),” said Gimbang, before calling on all the players to make amends by winning the playoff to at least cure their wounds.

 On the other hand, McCreery in his short address called on all the players to unite together in order to make the team stronger. “We have a situation, which is very critical, but fortunately we have the opportunity to rectify it. And the only people who can do it are those who are all in this room,” said McCreery.

 He added that the players must work together in order to achieve their goals. McCreery also expects the players to give their 100 per cent and be professional, disciplined and have good attitudes. “We have to work for each other because by doing so, it will make us stronger,” he said before adding that he was impressed with his new employer for the love they have shown towards the club and the team.

 “(For the management) the club is very much at heart, and it must be the case for the players, and it is how it should be,” he said. “For me, I will give my 100 per cent for the team, and will try my level best (to put things right,” he said, who will take over the team when Sabah take on Negeri Sembilan in their final league game at the Likas Stadium tomorrow.

 Assistant Secretary General II Tuan Hj Nizam Datuk Seri Panglima Abu Bakar Titingan, executive secretary Hasbullah Yahya, team manager Yahya Kassim, assistant coach Andrew Majanggim and goalkeeper coach Khairul Azman Mohd were also present at the function.

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