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Friday, July 12, 2013

Back to the drawing board

New Sabah Times

KOTA KINABALU: It has been a disappointing season yet again for Sabah in the Malaysian League. They saw their challenge being cut short following their failure to make it into the prestigious Malaysia Cup tournament. This is the second consecutive year that Sabah will not feature in the country’s oldest competition.

 The 0-4 defeat to Negeri Sembilan in the playoff at the Shah Alam Stadium on Wednesday night was nothing more than an embarrassment to the State squad. Well, many may not like it, but we got to admit the fact that there is something somewhere that is certainly not right within the team. But this is for the Sabah Football Association (SFA) to ponder what went wrong in the team.

 Some even say that the SFA itself needs transformation, but then again, what is the point of transformation if these problems within the team are left unchecked. Instead of trying to look for a scapegoat or to start to point fingers for the awful campaign, SFA should seriously look into the root of the problems and go back to the drawing board and start afresh.

 In fact, when you look out there, there is an abundance of talents waiting to be explored throughout the State, just that, it seems that we are a little too afraid to take chances and develop our very own homegrown talent. With this latest setback, SFA may or rather should give a serious thought on rebuilding the State squad based on the local talents that we have, and give the soon-to-be named new head coach Seslija Milomir a freehand in managing the State team without any interference whatsoever for we are not in a fantasy football game.

 He must also be given enough time to rebuild the squad as success cannot be built overnight. Milomir may have been the fans’ favourite during his playing career with Sabah in the 90s, but this time around, it would be a totally different ball game for the Bosnian. For the record, things have not been rosy for Sabah since they won the country’s top division title in 1996.

 It has been more than a decade that the senior side has not won any silverware. Their best achievement was making the Malaysia Cup final on two occasions in 2002 and 2003. They also twice finished second (2001 and 2010) in the Premier League. That was all they could do after the 1996 triumph! On Wednesday, it was a sorry night for Sabah, as they saw themselves one man down and two goals behind, after only about 15 minutes of play.

 Had Shahrul Azhar Ture not been given the marching orders, it could have been a good fight between the two sides. Shahrul was sent off, conceding the penalty for Negeri Sembilan’s second goal. After the break, Negeri Sembilan scored another two goals to sum up Sabah’s misery.

 For the record, this season, Sabah finished fifth in the Premier League after registering nine wins, three draws and 10 defeats. They were shown the exit door in the second round of the FA Cup by Selangor after losing 3-0 at the Likas Stadium. With this disappointment, it would be enough reason for SFA to start their preparations from now!

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