Wednesday, February 19

Top-flight test for young Crocs side


NEW LINE-UP: Abdullah and Razali (right) reveal the Crocs’ line-up for the new season to the press yesterday.

Sarawak sign two foreign players, nine local imports for new seasonKUCHING: A preponderance of youth will spearhead the Crocs’ campaign when they make their much-awaited return to the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next season.

Heading the new line-up will be Cameroon imports – defender Guy Bwele from Cotonsport and striker Kalle Sone Masue who last played for Romanian club CV Otopeni.

Masue will be given the No. 10 jersey as the replacement of former striker Bobby Gonzales who has moved on to new pastures.

There will be an addition of nine new local imports — goalkeepers Saiful Amar Sudar (Selangor) and Sani Anuar Kamsani (MP Muar); defenders Yosri Derma Raju (Selangor) and Ramesh Lai Ban Huat (KL Felda Utd FC); midfielders Mohd Azizan Baba (Johor FC), Rajan Koran (KL Felda Utd FC) and Depan Sakwati Kandasamy (Selangor), and forwards Ravindran Krishnan (Harimau Muda A) and Mohamad Rashid Mohamad Aya (Johor FC).

Adding to the host of new signings are former Yayasan Sarawak player Shahrul Abdul Malek and Ronald Dennis, a state futsal player.

The new season will be a baptism of fire for the duo who will be wearing jersey Nos. 4 and 14.

Both are midfielders and only 21 years old.

“The average age of the new Crocs side is only 26. Besides Ronald and Shahrul, Ashri Chuchu is also 21.

“We are confident Ronald and Shahrul can follow in Ashri’s footstep and mature as the season progresses,” Football Association of Sarawak (FAS) secretary-general Abdullah Julaihi told a press conference at the State Stadium yesterday.

Also present was vice-president Razali Dolhan.

Players from the previous season who have been retained are goalkeeper Aidil Mohamad; defenders Mazwandi Zekeria, Sahran Abdul Samad, Mohamad Fareez Tukijo, Mohammad Dzulazlan Ibrahim and Mohd Hairol Mokhtar; midfielders Azizan Saperi, Ashri, Mohammad Shahrol Saperi and Benedict Martin, and forwards Zamri Morshidi and local import Khairul Azahar Eidros from Johor.

All in all, the new team will have 13 local players, 10 local imports and two foreign imports.

With a beefed up line-up, it will be interesting to see how the team fare against the big boys in the new season.

One thing for certain is that the Crocs will play with the spirit of Ngap Sayot, their battlecry.

On expectations for the new season, Abdullah said the main aim was do well and stay competitive.

“We have to be realistic. This is a young team but with a mixture of young local talents and experienced imports, who knows, the Crocs may spring a surprise and win a trophy or two? You never know,” he surmised.

As for local boy Joseph Kalang Tie now playing for Terengganu, Abdullah said the star midfielder had signed a two-year contract with the East Coast side and Sarawak had to respect the deal.

However, FAS would be able to approach Joseph when his contract expired in November next year, he added.

Abdullah stressed in terms of spending, FAS had to be prudent.

“We are moving towards a clean bill of financial health in the new season. That’s why it isn’t easy to sign new players but Sarawak should manage.”

Abdullah revealed the Crocs would continue to don their favourite red jerseys for home games while the away kit would be blue.

Sarawak will play their first match at home on Jan 10.