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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Room for improvement aplenty

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: Alijus Hj Sipil insists they will take one game at a time as deep inside he knows too well that a lot still needs to be done on the Sabahawks if they harbour any hope to challenge for the Premier League crown. The interim team manager admits room for improvements are aplenty.

 Speaking to reporters after seeing his side struggle to a 2-1 victory over KL SPA Putrajaya in the opener at the Likas Stadium on Monday, Alijus, who is also the Sabah FA Secretary General, said the team’s weaknesses exposed in the game must be rectified, and the sooner the better. But for now, he added what mattered most is they have managed to kick start their campaign on the right footing, and the three points. 

“What is important is to have a good start to our campaign even though it was a difficult attempt. “This was our first game, but as I have said from the beginning, we will take one game at a time and learn and try to improve from game to game. “Yes, there are many areas that need to be improved. Among the obvious one is the fitness level of the players. But I believe this can be improved.

 “The team are still trying to get their rhythm and hopefully with the players that we have, including those not on the match-day list, we can work something positive for the team for the next game. “I believe that we have many options with the players that we have. There are 29 players on our list (including those from the President’s Cup squad but who trained with the senior squad).

I believe these youngsters are ready for first-team action when called upon. “That is why we can replace any player to suit the strategy to face our opponents in the coming matches. Having said all that, Alijus said he will leave it to the head coach David McCreery to plot for more victories. “I’m confident with our coaching staff led by our head coach David McCreery that they will make improvements in the team when they take on Sime Darby FC away on Friday.

 “Sime Darby are a top team, and we certainly need to play much better than this match. “Nevertheless, I hope this victory will give the players the confidence and motivation to work harder and make further progress,” said Alijus. In the Monday afternoon tie, flanker turned right-back Shahrul Azhar Ture scored a double for Sabahawks, by netting the opener as early as in the fifth minute through a freekick before Rhys David Weston scored an own goal in the 28th minute to put KL SPA Putrajaya on level terms.

 Shahrul made sure all the three points were theirs after slotting home his second from the spot in the second half. Sabahawks also had one penalty miss after Sharudin Yakup’s attempt was saved by the SPA custodian. Sabah are currently fourth based on goal difference after opening day victories by current table toppers Police, Pos Malaysia, Kedah and Sarawak.

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