21st March, 2017
NEW TASK … Juil (right), shakes hands with his head coach Jelius, prior to the team’s training at the Likas Stadium yesterday.
By FRANCIS XAVIER
KOTA KINABALU: Jelius Ating understands and is fully aware of his mission.
Less than 48 hours after being named as the new Sabah Rhinos head coach, the former state captain, is taking over the hot-seat with a vision on how he intends to move forward.
The 46-year-old, who was once dubbed as Sabah’s Ironman, knows it is a difficult, huge and heavy responsibility on his shoulders, but he is determined to put the state Premier League side back on the right track.
The rookie coach, who had just gained his AFC A Licence certificate, admitted, it cannot be done alone, but needs fullest support from all to bring positive development to the team.
“The first target for me is to ensure Sabah move out from the relegation zone and go on to maintain our Premier League status.
“The second thing is to find solutions on how to improve from the current situation that we are in. It would be a tall order to fight for the top but at least we must at least achieve the highest possible finish in the League,” he said, when met at his first training with the senior side at the Likas Stadium yesterday.
He replaced French coach Steve Vilmiaire following Sabah Rhinos’ poor run in the League, where the Rhinos have one win and a draw and six defeats in eight matches.
Datuk Juil Nuatim has been named as the new team manager succeeding Adlane Messelem. Juil was initially the team manager of the President’s Cup squad.
Jelius will have former teammate Burhan Ajui, who had also recently gained his AFC A Licence, as assistant coach.
“We are all aware that the team is in a critical situation so personally, it is a very difficult, huge and heavy responsibility that we (coaching staff and team officials) have to shoulder and implement effectively.
“I am not trying to give too high a promise or great expectations to any party but what I’m asking is to show faith in us so that we can do our job properly,” he added.
“One thing that I can promise is that I will give my utmost best and with my football background as a player and experience in coaching, hopefully it will be helpful for me to propel Sabah to a standing that we can be proud of.
“As I said, the situation is slightly critical for Sabah at the moment where we are second from bottom in the 12-team league.
“That is why I hope for support, encouragement and the faith from all…the FA management, media and of course the Sabah football fans.
“Hopefully, we will be able to repay the faith given by bringing a positive change to the squad and bringing success to the state squad,” he said.
Jelius had a pep talk with his new side prior to their training yesterday.
“I want to know what the problems were before this. After I have all the feedback from them, then only will we be able to find the solution on how to improve the performance of the team. I will only then be able to decide on whether we need to change the players or not,” he said.
However, he said he would utilise the existing players since the mid-season transfer window will only open in May and if the need arises, get back-up from the two Sabah junior squads.
“I would like to thank the Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman), who is also the Sabah FA (Safa) president for showing faith in me to take the ‘hot seat’ that is the head coach of the state senior squad,” he added.
For the record, the league is currently taking a break until April 7.
But Jelius’ first game in charge will be in the FA Cup quarter-final first-leg tie against Negeri Sembilan at the Likas Stadium on April 1.