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Friday, February 19, 2016

Simunic: We will improve!

By FRANCIS XAVIER Francis@newsabahtimes.com.my

 KOTA KINABALU: Vjeran Simunic said Sabah Rhinos are a team still in the making as he calls on the local fans for continuous support in helping his side put their challenge on the right track. The Croatian admitted things have not been going their way in their opening matches after suffering ugly defeats, but on the positive note, he insisted that his charges have shown improvement from game to game. “Against Kuantan was our best game from our last three,” he said referring to their tie against Felda United FC in the Safa Tawau Invitational Football Tournament and the defeat to UiTM FC. 

“We played good, but the result was ugly. If we had a little bit of luck, I think we could have won all three, matches” the Sabah Rhinos head coach said when met after seeing his second string squad struggle to a 1-0 win over the State Under-21 squad in a friendly tie at the Likas Stadium on Wednesday. “We are in the rebuilding process of the team, and of course we need time.

Unfortunately, we are already in the competition, and now what is important is for us to improve in every game. We have to do it together as a team. “Now, we have to be very focused. We have a game on Saturday (FA Cup), and we will respect any team that come. We need to concentrate. Yes, we have some little problem with our key players. Some are still not ready for 90 minutes like Radzi (Hussin).

 “It is understandable because he came late into our programme (pre-season). This is reality and same goes to Leopold (Alfonso Otong). Before I came, he was injured and when we started, he was on the sidelines. But they will improve their fitness level. “Prince (Tochukwu Nnake) also came late, and we also want to improve his condition better because I’m sure he can help us,” said Simunic. When pressed further,

Simunic said he was happy with the progress made by his side in every game. “We created chances, but only managed to score two (thus far), but soon, we will score more goals, but of course, we must also try not to concede any silly goals. The last two games, Simunic said his side made too many individual mistakes. “This happens in football, and it happens everywhere in the job, but we must try to minimise it,” he said.

To a question whether he is going to make any changes to his first team, Simunic was rather secretive on his plan, apart from revealing that he is sticking to the system that the team have been playing. “We will start with our best team (their next game against MOF FC in the FA Cup on Saturday). We have a little problem with Leopold and Tulio (Marco Tulio Lopes Silva), but I hope they can start the match.

 To another question on whether he will stick to his first-choice custodian Md Fadzley, who has conceded eight goals in just two games, he said: “I’m still thinking about it. He is a good goalkeeper, but he was unlucky and we were unlucky to concede eight goals. We have three goalkeepers, and I trust them all, but I’m still thinking as to who would play (goalkeeper) on Saturday,” said Simunic. Sabah Rhinos other two goalkeepers are Rozaimie Rohim and Aldrian Augus.

 On the 4-2-3-1 system that he has been deploying, Simunic said that his players are starting to adapt to the system, and that he is sticking to it. “The system is good. We have been creating chances. Our problem now is we made mistakes. I don’t want to point fingers, but generally, it’s a team mistake, so I hope after these two games, they will not make any more silly mistakes. He also called on the fans to be patient.

 “Now, it is a challenge for the team on how to survive. At the moment, the team need something like antibiotics … We need to win to instil confidence and lift spirit in the team,” he said. Simunic also refused to be drawn into a suggestion that the team suffered ugly defeats due to lack of competitive matches during the pre-season. He said: “This is not the issue because we are still building the team.

We have to admit that we do not have enough experience in the team, but this will improve. We have Jipun (Rawilson Batuil) who is only 22, Maxsius 23 and Leopold 24. We must sacrifice to develop these players. When they are 24, 25 and 26 years old, they will be very good players for Sabah,” Simunic said.

 “Now we have to work hard, mentally and physically. It cannot be done overnight, but I’m optimistic about this team. And we must trust this team. “Look at Kedah, they built the team in three years, and now they are a very good side in the Super League. In my opinion, Sabah must do that. “Now we must stick to the plan and build the team.

 We must improve from game to game and improve our discipline, concentration and so on. To the fans, Simunic said: “When we go to the pitch, we will do everything we can because we want to make them happy. Of course the results must come, and we also want them to continue to support us. We are ready and willing to fight for them, to fight for the club and the state.” “Furthermore, most of the players are Sabahans, which is good for football development in Sabah,” he said.

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