KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Newly-appointed Sabah FC head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has not received any pressure from the team management ahead of his first task in the Malaysia Cup 2021 which starts this Sunday.
Kim Swee, 50, who had won the FA Cup in 1995 and the 1996 Premier League when donning The Rhinos jersey, said there was no benchmark set by Sabah FC for the prestigious tournament which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
However, the coach who has achieved some sweet success with the national squad on the international stage still has high hopes and would like to see Sabah FC give a positive performance throughout the tournament.
“If we can get out of the group stage, that is a bonus and of course after that we have to think about planning for not only for the knockout stage, but to identify what I need to do for the 2022 season,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
Sabah FC, who have never won the Malaysia Cup with the best record as runners-up three times, in 1996, 2002 and 2003, are drawn in Group D with Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), Petaling Jaya City FC and a Premier League team to be determined soon.
Although no specific target was set, the former coach of the national Under-23 (U-23) squad and the national senior team admitted that The Rhinos could not take any match in their Malaysia Cup campaign lightly.
He said the Malaysia Cup was one of the platforms for the Sabah FC players to display their ability to be in the team’s planning for the 2022 season.
“I want the Sabah FC players to prove to me that they are still relevant before I make any changes for next season,” said the Melaka-born coach.
On September 10, Sabah FC announced Kim Swee as the team’s new head coach to replace Indonesian coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto who was rested following the team’s declining performance, especially in the Super League.
He had earlier resigned from the position of Technical Director of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) which he held since January 1 this year.
According to Kim Swee, Sabah FC had previously approached him several times but had to be rejected due to unsuitable time factors besides having to focus on his duties at FAM.
However, his heart was open this time after holding discussions with Sabah Football Association (SAFA) president Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, Sabah FC chief executive Officer Khairul Firdaus Akbar, team manager Marzuki Nasir and technical director Scott Ollerenshaw
“They have a very good vision for the Sabah FC team especially with the plans not only in terms of the main team, but overall in terms of football development in Sabah,” he said.
Sharing his views on his new team, he described Sabah FC who finished the Super League this season in ninth position as a competitive team, but believed there was room for improvement to achieve consistent results in the future.
“In the first round of the league, Sabah FC were able to compete with good teams, like KDA FC and Selangor FC, but in the second round the results were not in their favour. So of course we can see what weaknesses need to be improved, especially in training and matches, “he said. — Bernama