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Monday, January 06, 2014

New-look Sabah show promise

Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: The new-look Sabah team showed a lot of promise as they beat Sarawak 1-0 at the Likas Stadiun on Saturday. It may only be a friendly affair but the morale boosting result was certainly an important step for the home team in their preparation for the start of the Premier League season and coach Milomir Seslija, who has assembled what looks like a potentially excellent squad in just a few weeks, was obviously delighted with the performance.

 Although he insisted that it was just another training match and the players were not given enough rest for the match, with the players showing plenty of flair, skill and invention to finish as the stronger side against their Super League opponents in front of more than 3000 fans, certainly brought a smile to the Sabah Football Association's officials.

 "They are a good team and gave us a very good game and it was exactly what we needed. Our team has been assembled in the last month and from having only three players left from last season then to what we showed today, I think we gained some respect," he said. "We were a little timid at the start but that's to be expected. But as soon as we got more confident as the game wore on, we began to dominate the game and played better.

 I think the players finally realised they could match their more illustrous opponents." True to his words before the match, the players gave their all on the pitch as they fought for every ball and the communication among the players was also good. With playmaker Srecko Mitrovic calling the shots in the centre, they were able to get beyond the Sarawak midfield and allowing them scope to bamboozle their opponents back four. Hotshot Rozaimi Abd Rahman who was not match fit and only started the game from the left flank as the result of illness to Redzuan Nawi at the eleventh hour showed flashes of brilliance especially in the second half.

 Latest recruit Marwan Sayedeh from Syria who only joined the team a week ago was a livewire and also a hit with the fans with his dribbling skills and he was duly rewarded with the winning goal. All the players played above expectation with Predrag Pocuca and the evergreen Reithaudin Emran in the heart of defence supported by captain Rosdi Wasli at the front looked very solid.

 New right back Varathan Arumugam and left back Julamri Mohammad also did an excellent job and contantly moved up to help out in the attacks. Another new face Ezaidy Khadi was a thorn to the Sarawak's defence with his speed from the flank while Farid Ideris also looked the part as a target man for the team. Goalkeepers Erwan Jamil and Fadzri Paat both showed a safe pair of hands in the match and it could only be good news for the team in the coming season.

 And even the substitutes who came on in the second half did not disappoint and were able to maintain the momentum of the play. Former Harimau Muda B player Maxsius Musa was outstanding after he came on and it was his cross that created the winner and he also had two shots that narrowly missed the target.

 Milomir said it was a great match for the fans but admitted that there are still weaknesses that need to be rectified and he promised the team will get even better with Rozaimi yet to click with his teammates and they are also missing Zainizam Marjan at the moment with a minor injury. "I am very satisfied with what I saw. It was a good test for us and I have identified what we need to work on," he said.

 Meanwhile, team manager Rahman Zakaria said he hoped the players will continue to improve and raise another bar in their games. "It is definitely a much improved performance since we returned from the Indonesian tour and I am glad to see that the juniors are doing a good job and clicking well with the senior players in the team."

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