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Friday, December 18, 2015

Leopold sticks with Sabah Rhinos


RETAINED FROM THE 2015 SQUAD … clockwise from left Leopold, Azzizan, Maxsius, Shafuan, Jenius, Julamri, Alto and Rawilson (not in the picture).
KOTA KINABALU: Rumours surrounding the fate of talented striker Leopold Alfonso in the state Premier League squad were finally put to rest as he signed an undisclosed one-year deal with the Sabah Football Association yesterday.

 He was among the five players, who put pen to paper on Thursday with the rest being Shafuan Shaari, Rexjeson Pitirus, Dendy Lowa and Rocco Nigel Milus. Both Leopold and Shafuan were part of the 2015 squad, while Rexjeson and Dendy are no strangers to the team as they were part of the state side a couple of years back before being released.

 During this just concluded season, Rexjeson helped Melaka to gain Premier League promotion from the FAM Cup League, while Dendy was left playing for a local side after failing to land any deal with teams in the M-League. As for Ricco, he is a former State Reserve League player.

 With the latest development, the Sabah FA has so far tied up 12 players – 11 local and one local import in Shafuan. The rest who have signed their contracts are Azzizan Nordin, Maxsius Musa, Badrul Affendy, Rawilson Batuil, Jenius Karib, Alto Linus and Julamri Muhammad. Leopold was rumoured to be donning Melaka colours next season.

He was even spotted training with the newly-promoted side a few days ago before having a change of heart. Meanwhile, Sabah Rhinos newly appointed head coach Vjeran Simunic insisted that preparations for the new season will go in full swing starting from January 4, 2016.

 At the moment, he added, he is hoping to identify 18 players as soon as possible before deciding on which positions need to be reinforced. “We have done 20 days of training with the local players … morning and afternoon, and I’m very satisfied with the response.

 “And I am also satisfied with my coaching staff. What we want to do (now) is to settle down the 18 players as soon as possible and after that I will decide what kind of players are needed to top up either local imports or foreign imports,” said Simunic.

 He said the four foreign players and probably another three local imports need to have personality and must be able to help young local players to become big professionals. “We are looking for three Europeans or overseas players and one Indonesian maybe … because we do not have money for Koreans or Japanese.

 “We also need a defender who knows what to do with the ball, who knows how to set up the last ball. I already have Julamri, Alto and I am satisfied and I also got Rawilson. A stopper must know how to bring the ball out. “As for the midfield, we need a midfielder who can supply the ball to our target man.

And the target man (striker) must work with the youngsters like Maxsius. I also need a target man who can pass the ball to midfielders to score. We need a good scorer with a good personality,” he said. “I know that we need experience but with a young team we must operate overnight.

We do not have three to four months to form a team so my players … everyday they must open their eyes and take responsibility to take the Sabah team further. “Even though we are young and inexperienced, we cannot escape from our responsibility.
I will try to make the Sabah team strong. It is not easy with young boys but I will try. We will try with heart and without experience and I hope the import players will help me,” said Simunic. For the record, at the moment, there are still about 25 players, including those who have signed and from the Reserve League squad, attending training with the team.
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