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Saturday, December 05, 2015

Croatian Simunic is the new coach of Rhinos

Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Football Association (Safa) on Friday appointed former Croatian international, Vjeran Simunic as the new head coach of the Sabah Rhinos. This was announced by Safa Deputy President II, Datuk Lawrence Gimbang at a press conference held at the Youth and Sports Ministry office at Wisma Muis, Friday.

 "After several weeks of discussions, we have come into conclusion to appoint Simunic, who was the former Perak head coach and technical director, as the new Sabah Premier League head coach," he said. The colourful 62-years-old Croatian who has managed over 30 clubs in Europe and Asia in his managerial career will officially put his signature for the Rhinos during a meeting on December 7 (Monday) after he was chosen among the five candidates shortlisted by Safa.

 "He (Simunic) arrived here a few days ago and will officially sign for the team on Monday before taking charge of team's first official training on Monday evening," said Gimbang. Simunic's vast experience in Asian football leagues will come in handy for the Rhinos' campaign for promotion into the Malaysian Super League where previously he led Brunei DPMM FC to the Singapore League Cup title twice in 2009 and 2012.

 "With his experience, we are confident that he will do a good job here in leading the players to perform better, on and off the pitch. He will be assisted by Johnny Dominicus and Andrew Majanggim as both were appointed the new first team assistant coaches," said Lawrence. The 30-man first team squad comprises senior and newly recruited players from the 900 participants of the open trial selection last month and will train together for the first time on Monday after a one-week holiday.

 Gimbang said several import players will come for trials in the coming weeks, stating that Safa will only sign one or two Peninsula players. "The full power of player selection, whether it involved local or import players, has now been given to the coaching staff led by Simunic. "We will also sign a small number of Peninsula players as first team backups and to help the younger players learn the game, more based on their experiences," he said.

 Gimbang urged Rhinos fans not to expect any miracles next season as Safa is in the process of emphasising local young players in the State's first team squad for future prospects. "We are trying to build an all-Sabahan team compromising local players in the years to come.

Therefore, I ask fans not to hope much for next season but we are targeting for the best possible finish with our young troop of players. "The young players aged between 19 and 23 that were selected from the open trial will one day lead the State to glory.

Hence, give us two to three years to refine these unpolished talents to be developed into top players in the country," he reassures fans. Meanwhile, Safa also announced the line-up for the backup squads coaching staff where the President Cup team will be headed by Justin Ganai as head coach and Burhan Ajui as assistant coach while the Under-19 squad will have Julius Ating as head coach and Awang Sabtu Jamil as his assistant. Gimbang said the team manager for the Sabah Rhinos will be announced later after Safa have concluded their discussions.

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