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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Banking on Borneo spirit

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Rhinos newly-appointed head coach Vjeran Simunic believes the Borneo spirit could help make his side a surprise package in next year’s Premier League challenge. The Croatian insists Borneo’s unique spirit will be one of the key elements in facing the unknown challenges ahead.

 The 62-year-old admitted what lies ahead for him and his new-look squad will be an uphill task, but it is not an impossible thing to do as they work as a big team. Simunic said he is no stranger to this part of Malaysia having coached Brunei’s DPMM FC while having been here either for friendly matches or for holidays.

 He said with this valuable knowledge that he hoped to make Sabah a formidable force in the domestic football scene, but it needs to be done one step at a time. “I know our club is not as rich compared to some teams in West Malaysia, but we have something different here.

 “We have the spirit of Borneo and I know this because I have worked in this area before. It is not easy to expect miracles to happen overnight but from now on, today, we start to build a team who can be recognisable for character and something special for Sabahan people,” he said, after inking an undisclosed one-year deal with the Sabah FA yesterday.

 He also revealed that he is one man who is always giving a chance to young players as long as they are ready to do the job or rather if they are good enough. He said he has called eight players from the 2016 President’s Cup training squad to join the rest of the seniors. For the record, only five players from the 2015 senior squad have had their contracts extended while the rest are on trials, with many of them youngsters.

 “It was very nice that we have almost 80 per cent Sabahan kids (with the senior training squad)...they may not be experienced but they have the talent. “I also hope to discover players from other towns or villages in Sabah and in fact I have already called up players from the President’s Cup team.

 “The Premier League is quite a strong competition and we need experienced players. We will try our best to prepare our boys and of course we must work extra harder. Meanwhile, Simunic said Sabah must strive harder to improve all the time. “We must always have a target that we can achieve something

. Maybe Sabah’s ability at the moment is as good as a mid-table team but we always aim to be better than yesterday. “It may not happen next month, the month after or year after, but in our very close future we must do something to improve. Kedah are a good example and I appreciate what they have done.

 They cleaned up the team and started from zero and look where they are now…maybe they will win the Malaysia Cup. “If Kedah can do it, why not here in Sabah,” said Simunic, as he called on all to work as a team, including the fans, media as well as team officials, to ensure Sabah would again be among the teams to be reckoned with in the country.

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