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Friday, January 22, 2016

Stay loyal

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Nizam Abu Bakar Titingan has called on the local fans to be loyal, mature and play their role as the team’s 12th man when the Sabah Rhinos kick off their Premier League challenge on February 12. The Sabah Rhinos team manager said their new-look side need full support from the local fans.

Nizam also knows well that negative criticism could also jeopardise their season. And for that reason, he hopes and calls on everyone, especially the fans, to stay positive and rally behind the state side in realising the common goal of wanting the state side to do well. “I think no matter how angry the fans may be, they need to be wiser in playing with words when voicing dissatisfaction.

 “For me, a mature and loyal fan is one that will support the team in times of joy and adversity. We play football with 11 men but the fans can be our twelfth,” Nizam said, when met at the team’s friendly match with the President’s Cup squad here two days ago. He said negative emotions can impact badly on the team and that full support should be given to help bring out the best in the players.

 “We mustn’t get carried away even when we are angry because negativity can have a crucial impact on the team and players’ confidence. “Instead, criticise constructively… give confidence to help ignite their spirits for them to give their best. He also asked fans to give the mandate to the new management in handling the squad so that they too can do their best without constantly worrying about criticism.

 This time around, Nizam said 80 per cent of the squad are local players and therefore they should not be tasked to shoulder big hopes. He added that if the Sabah Rhinos can make a top-four finish at the end of the season, it would be a good achievement considering the fact that they are not only a new-look side, but also comprise quite a number of young and inexperienced players.

 According to Nizam, if the fans are negative, even before the season begins, and say that all the players are kampong (village) players then it is unfair for the team (players). “We are still in the process of forming the team … be patient and be the loyal and mature fans that we need,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Sabah Rhinos will be involved in a friendly match with a Juta Keningau selection team at the Keningau Stadium on January 26. They will also play a three-corner Safa Tawau Invitational tournament at the Tawau Sports Complex on January 29-31 where they have the Brunei Under-23 side and Super League outfit KL Felda United FC as opponents. Fans in Tawau can be the first to get up close and personal with the Sabah players at a meet-the-fans session on January 30 (time and venue to be advised).

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