12th July, 2012
JUST ARRIVED … McCreery (centre), is flanked by assistant coach Andrew (left), and Yahya upon their arrival yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU: There is still life after all for the ailing Sabahawks after team officials claimed that they will be involved in a relegation playoff with three other teams.
The good news does not end there, as the Sabah FA is also set to officially announce their new man – David McCreery – for the head coach post that was left vacant following the dismissal of Justin Ganai last month, today.
Yesterday, team manager Yahya Kassim confirmed that they will be in for a second chance to save their season.
He said they will be involved in the playoff, which will be held at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka.
The playoff has been set for July 17 – the same day as the Sabah All Stars date with the visiting EPL outfit Queens Park Rangers.
There will be four teams that will be fighting for the one slot (Super League).
Three teams from the Super League side and one from Premier League, which is Pahang, who finished second to eventual winners, the Armed Forces.
As for the three Super League teams, the confirmed teams are Sabah and Kedah while the last one is likely to be Sarawak.
Teams like Johor FC, KL Felda United FC and Selangor PKNS are also still not safe from the playoff, because if Sarawak wins their final battle and results elsewhere favour them, they still can escape the playoff.
However, it is a tough mission for the Crocs to get the three valuable points as they face newly crowned champions Kelantan in their final league tie. And they have to do it at Kelantan’s fortress, the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Bahru.
Yahya said if Sabah wins the first playoff tie, they will take on the winners of the second playoff match of which the winner of the final playoff (tie) will clinch the Super League spot.
“The winners of the playoff would also qualify for the Malaysia Cup competition so as the losing team,” said Yahya.
Sabah was given a lifeline following the FA of Malaysia’s latest circular, which stated that when it comes to determine the standings of the local teams, it does not include Lions XII, which means, Sabah is placed 12th.
Yahya said they will try their best to avoid the drop.
“We will surely try our best,” said Yahya, adding that if everything goes well, McCreery will be in charge of the team.
“The players look tired, and we still have to take on Negeri Sembilan this Saturday.
“And another three players will also be sent to Sukma to shore up support to our team there, Md Rozaimi (Abd Rahman), Zul Mansshah (Aling), Razid (Gapar) since our team is in the Sukma semi-finals.
“However, we need them back for this Saturday’s match because the Super League is still vital for us. And furthermore our team is hit by injuries.
Meanwhile, McCreery, who saw the Selangor-Sabah tie from the spectator seats on Tuesday, admitted that there is a lot of work to do on Sabah based on the match.
“There is a lot to work on Sabah judging from the game against Selangor to start with, Selangor is a very good team and they have many good players.
“And there were many goals that could have been saved and, which the team could have prevented.
“And towards the end Sabah got stronger. They could have ended the game with a draw and the team got a little bit stronger, but then again it was a place difficult to go to,” he said.
McCreery’s agent, Effendy Jagan Abdullah, who accompanied him, said: “We will likely seal the deal by either today (yesterday) or tomorrow. But I believe it will be a done deal case by today (yesterday).”