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Banking on spirit of Borneo
Published on: Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: The spirit of Borneo is the key for success of the Rhinos next season, said new head coach Vjeran Simunić after he was given a year contract by Sabah Football Association.

"I know our club is not as rich as some other teams in West Malaysia but maybe we have some spirit from Borneo that can bring success. I have worked in this area before and I already know people here are different from those in the Peninsula. So I will try to bring out their best."

He said he has the drive to bring success to the team as he has the same personality as the locals here.

"I have the same personality and I also come from a small country where the players can make big results around the world and I am also very hungry to make progress with the team.

"We will start building the team with character and something special for the Sabah people. It is very nice for me to have mostly Sabahans in the team. They may not have the experience but they have the talents.

"I am sure they will mature early. I have the experience to change the attitude of the players and I am sure you can see the difference in the players in the next three or six months.


"I hope we can discover some players from other towns or villages. We will try our very best to prepare our young boys for the Premier league.

"We must also try to find good players who are 17 years of age because players round the world like Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar all started at 17 and why can't Malaysians start at the same age," he said.

He also stressed that the team have to set a higher target than they used to achieve.

"We must always make a target over our ability at this moment. For example, Sabah always finished in mid-table and we must target a higher position in the new season. We must work something out and it could be one month, six months, one year, two years or the very near future, but we must do something."

Meanwhile, Rhinos fans are urged to be patient with the new-look Sabah Premier League team next season.


Sabah Football Association Deputy President II, Datuk Lawrence Gimbang said on Tuesday after the official signing of Simunić that the team will consist mostly young local players.

"We are looking forward to the season and we want Sabahans to support us. We will have very young Sabahans in the team and we do not expect miracle.

"Give us two to three years to develop this team. Of course our ultimate aim is to be promoted to the Super League but we need time to do it.

"As I said earlier, most of the players are Sabahans but we will have some from the Peninsula as well, maybe two or three or five players and also the four foreign imports to be recommended by our coach."

According to him, only five players from last season have signed with Safa and there will be a trial for local imports from Dec 14-17.


"We have signed five players so far and we will let the coach decide on the others during the trial where we are hoping to attract good quality players.

"We also have some of the junior players from the President Cup training with the senior team and since we have a new coach this year, it is only fair for him to be the judge on the players."

Lawrence also disclosed that former greats James Wong and Hassan Sani may play a big role in the team this year.

"We also wish to say here that our famous two Sabahans – James and Hassan are to be involved in our team this year. We will give them a new role in the team and we hope they can give spirit to the Sabahans, and we thank Simunic for coming to Sabah and we hope for the best next year."

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