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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Simunic calls for patience

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my
IMPRESSIVE … Prince Nnake (orange training vest) tries to avoid a tackle during the friendly yesterday.
 KOTA KINABALU: Vjeran Simunic insists he is here to build a side for the future, as he seeks for patience, especially from the local fans. The Croatian believes with proper guidance and the players showing the right attitude it would not be long before Sabah could regain their glory days at the national football scene.

 “We must be patient with this team. They have no experience but they are very talented and hungry. As the coach, I can see the situation in the team is growing…the attitude and so on. “I’m happy that majority in the squad are Sabahan players. Sabah have a good future but we must be a little bit patient with this team.

This team can be nice in next two years,” Simunic said, when met after seeing his side struggle to a two-all draw against the state Under-21 side in a friendly tie at the synthetic pitch in Likas here yesterday. He added that he was also looking at players from the President’s Cup to be roped into the senior team and he believed that there are more talents to be discovered across the state.

 In the friendly, the state Under-21 squad, which is under the watchful eyes of veteran coach Justin Ganai, took a surprise two-goal lead at half time with Shakoy Jusit and Md Ikmal Akid Bahari netting the goals. Umareng Bacok reduced the deficit for the seniors early in the second half before Nigerian striker Prince Tochukwu Nnake, who is on trials with the team, slotted home the leveller from a Marco Tulio Gomez assist.

 “I can understand the two mistakes that led to the goals in the first half because we are not working too much with the ball or tactically at the moment. “We focus on improving the players’ physical condition at the moment but on the other hand, losing two-nil was good because it gave me the chance to see how they will respond to that.

 “We came back in the second half and created many chances. Next week when we are fresher, we will improve. “What the team need now is friendly games against quality opponents and look how strong we are,” he said. Meanwhile, Simunic seemed to like what he sees from the on trial Prince Nnake.

 “He is someone that I like. He is hungry (for goals)...he can attack from the left or from the right and can score with his head and keep the ball too. “He has only just arrived and he is fresh, but he is hungry to show something in Malaysia,” Simunic said. However, he said it is not up to him alone to decide whether Prince Nnake would fill the fourth and final foreign import quota, as it needs the blessing from his employer the Sabah FA.

 Simunic also revealed that he was happy with his present squad that included the signed foreign imports trio of defender Igor Celina, playmaker Marco Tulio Gomez and midfielder Dedi Kusnandar and he was more than happy to groom Sabahan players. “I don’t know what it will be…I hope he (Prince Nnake) stays. However, it is not only up to me but also the management.

 “I’m already happy with these three players (Igor, Dedi, Marco) and I trust my local players,” added Simunic. Simunic will have the chance to put his side to the real test when they take part in the Safa Tawau Invitational Tournament, which will be happening at the Tawau Stadium from January 29 to 31. They will take on the Brunei Under-21 side as well as Super League outfit KL Felda United FC.

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