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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Croatian is first foreign signing

Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Coach Vjeran Simunic confirmed on Monday that Croatian central defender Igor Cerina is the first foreign signing for Sabah Rhinos in the new season. The 27-year-old who came for trial three weeks ago had just got back from his home town on Sunday after spending the new year with the family.

 He last played for S-League outfit Balestier Khalsa FC in the just concluded season and was rated as one of the best defenders in the league and Simunic believed he is the man to mend the leaky Sabah defence. "People may argue that S-League is much inferior to the Super League in Malaysia but we are talking about the Premier League here and with a limited budget and as one of the top defenders in the S-League I think he is good enough for Sabah."

 Another import who is likely to get the nod from the coach is Brazilian playmaker Marco Tulio Lopes who arrived with Igor on the same flight from Kuala Lumpur. "At this moment we only signed one with Igor and now comes Marco Tulio. Everything with him is okay because we know who he is and I tested him last year in Perak and he is also very famous in Malaysia for a long time.

 "I think he is the one that this young team needs because he is a playmaker, he organises the game and it is not easy to bring a player of his profile to play in the second division or Premier League, we brought him here and if he passes the medical test, then everything would be okay."

 The 33-year-old Marco had previously played for T-Team in the 2012 season and also in the 2014 season with Perak as a mid-season foreign signing and managed to score four goals in 12 appearances. The veteran coach added that his next target is to find the target man for the team. "We need a strong player like (former Perak striker) Charles Souza Chad and (PKNS FC'S former Croatian U-21 player) Karlo Primorac.

We already had Dedi, an Indonesian on trial. I must see him, he may be an all round player, all round I mean box-to-box. "We may need one more player for defence in midfield or we can make one from our local players because I am still building my team from local players and we still have time to top up with the foreigners.

 "As for local imports, at this time we don't have any, we already have two including a goalkeeper, we may be looking for one more defender. "When I first came to Sabah I said we have very good local players and also my main focus is to make the team with as many Sabahans as possible, so if I can get 80 per cent Sabahan (make up) in the team I'll be happy,

20 per cent will mean foreign and local imports, so for me the maximum is three local imports for the team." Meanwhile, former Rhinos favourite Marwan Sayedeh and Sarawak hitman Muamer Salibašić also showed up for trial with the team on Monday. Syrian Marwan was the top scorer for Rhinos in the 2014 season with 14 goals in 19 appearances while Muamer scored 22 goals in 44 appearances for the Crocs from 2013-15.

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