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 Sports

Preparations smooth despite limited budget – Peter

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MOVING FORWARD … Peter (3rd left), having a chat with Jelius (left), together with the rest after the selection trials on Wednesday as the rest look on.

18th January, 2019

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: Finances are often a challenge for football teams in the country and Sabah Football Association (Safa) is no exception as far as money is concerned.

In fact, they are still struggling to improve on their financial muscle and due to that fact, they will be running on a tight budget for the new season.

Even newly-appointed acting president Datuk Peter Anthony admits they are having a limited budget to work with. When met at the team’s training cum selection trials for foreign players at the Likas Stadium on Wednesday, Peter, who is also the State Infrastructure Development Minister, said they are still in search for the right foreign imports to complete their squad.

“We are having a bit of difficulty in completing our full squad for the new season. Our problem is we are still searching for the right players (foreign) players with the right price.

“There are good import players we’ve wanted before this but we have missed out on them to other teams, who give better and higher offers that we cannot afford.

“Our financial capabilities are limited after paying off some of the debts from the previous administration, including the salaries of our players from the senior team that was overdue for four to five months,” said Peter.

“Due to this bad debt by the previous administration, it affected our preparations for the new season. “Now, we have to spend prudently because we have yet to settle some of the debts (from the previous administration), including the salaries of the Reserve League and Youth Cups players.

“We are aware of the problem (debt). When I took over the association, my immediate task was to save the State Premier League squad so that we will be able to see action in the Premier League.

“Now, we will move another step forward and will give our best to make sure that Safa is back on the right track,” said Peter, adding that after missing out on their earlier target, they have yet to find suitable foreign players to fill in the three vacant slots (for foreign players).

“About 10 players have come and attended trials with the team, but it seems that none of them impressed our head coach (Jelius Ating).

“Nevertheless, we will continue with our search and if we cannot find any before the season kicks off on February 2, I’m sure we will be able to complete our foreign signings before registration for foreign players closes on Feb 20,” he said.

“We will not be signing foreign players for the sake of having them. We want to make sure that when we sign them, it will strengthen the team, otherwise, we will continue with the players that we have,” he added.

For the record, Serbian striker Rodoljub Paunovic is the only import player in the team at the moment.

Meanwhile, Peter said with the exception of looking for foreign players, their preparations have been going on smoothly.

Sabah Rhinos will kick off the new season by taking on Johor Darul Ta’zim II at the Likas Stadium on Feb 2.

   
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