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 Sports

Safa gets cracking

20th September, 2019

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: Super League-bound Tambadau are wasting no time in getting the ball rolling in their preparations for the new season.

It seems that they want to mark their return into the country’s top-flight football action with a bang after seven years of plying their trade in the second-tier league – the Premier League.

They make no secret in wanting to bring quality players – foreign or local – to beef up the team.

Sabah Football Association president Datuk Peter Anthony said they have done their homework and that something is up their sleeves as far as their preparations for the new season are concerned.

Speaking to reporters shortly after Tambadau ended their Malaysia Cup Group C campaign with a one-all draw against Perak in Likas on Wednesday, Peter revealed they have already identified a few names but refused to reveal the identity of their targets.

He believes that these (foreign) players could help strengthen the team to face the tougher Super League challenge.

“We are aware that the standard between the Super League and Premier League…it (Super League) is much, much tougher and very challenging.

“That is why it is very important that we must find quality import players to beef up the team’s backline and up front … these are the two areas that we need to strengthen.

“We want to have a formidable side that can compete with the rest and not just to make up the numbers in the Super League,” he said.

According to him, the matter of bringing in new import players has been discussed at the management level and that they have identified several names.

“Some of them are already in Malaysia and they include naturalised footballers.

“We are aware that some foreign players have been granted citizenship and can represent the country, so we don’t want to miss the opportunity to strengthen the team.

“There is still time for us to get the team ready and in fact, I will personally assess the players and if required, we will go overseas to find the right players.

“What is certain is that we will bring in three or four players to the team.

On the current squad, he said that they have more or less identified which players will be retained or otherwise. To a question, Peter said he was proud of the team despite their early elimination from the Malaysia Cup where they failed to get beyond the group stages.

He said the squad under head coach Jelius Ating have tried their best but it was still not enough in the end. “When we started the (2019) campaign we did not set any target for the Malaysia Cup because the main aim was to fight for Super League promotion.

“We did it and to top it all we were also crowned the Premier League champions. That is already an achievement for the team,” said Peter.

“Now, our focus is solely on preparing the team to face the Super League next year. For the record, Tambadau finished bottom on four points behind third-placed Penang (five points), while Perak (nine points) and group winners Pahang (15 points) booked their place in the quarter-finals.

   
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