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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Malaysian football legend James Wong hopes to revive Sabah's fortunes

The Star

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian football legend James Wong hopes to bring back the golden years for Sabah. The 64-year-old James, a household name in the 1970s and 1980s, said that “work is in progress to rebuild the state football team”. “Slowly but surely we will revive Sabah football,” said James when contacted in Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday.

 The Sabah FA (Safa) have appointed James and his former strike partner Hassan Sani as assistant managers of the state team. They will assist head coach Vjeran Simunic for their Premier League campaign this year. “Well, it’s good to be back after 30 years or so,” said James, who is known as “King James’ by his fans. “The two of us were invited by Safa to help out and we felt that we could share our expertise with the young players.

We will not disrupt the main training sessions. We will have our own one-on-one workouts with the players. “Who knows, maybe we can help inspire these young boys to improve on the finer parts of their game. For instance, analysing what is missing in their game ... when to run, where to position themselves and others,” said James.

 Sabah have a relatively young squad and will be severely tested in this year’s campaign. James admitted that it would be tough to change them overnight, but they could do something with the team in a couple of years. “It’s tough because Sabah have retained only six players from last year’s squad. And those retained are not even regulars.

The rest are basically newcomers or from the President’s Cup team. But you never know what can happen,” said James. The team have been strengthened by import players – defender Igor Cerina (Croatia), midfielders Marco Tulio Lopes Silva (Brazil) and Dedi Kusnandar (Indonesia) and striker Prince Nnake (Nigeria). James is best remembered for putting Malaysia through to the 1980 Moscow Olympics after scoring the all-important winner over South Korea (2-1) at the Merdeka Stadium.

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