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Sunday, July 01, 2001

Football - 'Infamous Five' to get less wages

By Rizal Abdullah

JOHOR BARU: Sarawak's "Infamous Five" -- former international winger Nazri Yunos, defender Shamsul Napiah, strikers Safri Amit and Abang Zaafari Abang Othman and reserve goalkeeper Mohd Firdaus Ishak -- have had their salaries cut by half with immediate effect.

Also, the five will lose all their fringe benefits which came with their contract. This means they will have to move out from their present houses, lose their transport allowance and medical benefits.

However, the five remain suspended from playing until the Sarawak FA disciplinary board meets to decide on their fate following their arrest by the anti-narcotics unit in two houses in Matang Jaya, Kuching on June 23.

This was decided by the board at a meeting yesterday. The meeting was chaired by Datuk J.C. Fong, one of the FA's vice-presidents.

Others members of the board are former Sarawak Commissioner of Police Datuk Awang Ehsan Awang Joini, Affendi Ariffin, Richard Chua and FAS secretary Abang Zainuddin Abang Abdul Rahman.

"All five will remain suspended from the team until the board meets again. For the time being, the board decided, they should be given only half pay.

Meanwhile, Sarawak coach Jalil Ramli has identified two players from the Reserve League who could feature in the senior team. One of them is attacking midfielder Sharizan Sari. The other is rightback Jeffery Akop.

Source: The Star


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M-League - Rhinos back on track after getting pay cheque

JOHOR BARU: The Rhinos flew in at midnight. But with their bank balances healthy again, the Sabah players are no longer losing sleep, worrying about their families.

Now, they can concentrate on their opponents, starting with Kelantan TNB in a second round league match at the Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium tonight.

It is a match which the Rhinos need to win to keep the pressure on leaders Johor FC who lead the table with 28 points from 11 matches. Sabah are on 24.

Sabah coach Ken Worden said his players would be rested enough by this morning. More importantly, they are at ease after being paid their salaries for between two and three months. They were paid for the months of April, May and June.

The payout changed the scenario in the Sabah camp. The players had threatened to stay away from tonight's match if they are not paid their dues.

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) then stepped in with a RM230,000 bailout.

"I must agree that it is a totally different atmosphere now," said Worden yesterday. "The smiles that had been missing for a long time are back. And the players have vowed to give 100 per cent."

"We have not lost track of our target of finishing in the top three in Premier II. I will have my best team at my disposal for the match against TNB," said Worden.

"We are grateful to the FAM for the bailout. It is a very timely one," said the coach.

Sabah have been plagued by problems of late payment of salaries since last year. On top of that. two managers have quit the team so far this season.

Osman Jamal quit in March and Datuk Lawrence Gimbang last month.

Source: The Star


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M-League - Rhinos told to get cracking!

By FRANCIS XAVIER

KOTA KINABALU: The smiles at the Rhinos training camp yesterday was of little wonder as the players and coaches got three months urgently-needed backdated wages, thanks to an SOS payment from the Football Association of Malaysia.

Coach Ken Worden who told reporters the good news said that there should be no more excuses from the players not to perform to expectations.

"The salaries are being paid. Nobody should have any complain. Now is time to put some action in and keep the action," said Worden.

Mutiny was within sniffing distance earlier when the players threatened to stay away from away matches if their salaries were not paid.

But the FAM intervened and promised to settle the playersí outstanding wages by deducting from the annual grant due to the Sabah FA.

Yesterday was pay time. But it was not full payment, as the players are said to be owed five monthsí wages. The remaining two monthsí wages are believed to be the dues from November and December last year.

To a question, he said his biggest challenge when the second round resumes on Sunday is to keep the team on the right track.

"Hopefully we can get back into the rhythm of what we were before the season broke up and stay on track - thatís my priority - to stay on track," the Aussie said.

"From what I can gather and I think you can see, the team is upbeat - the morale is high - a lot of them missed training because of the problems. But Iím not expecting to get beaten there," he said , referring to Sabahís opener match against TNB Kelantan on Sunday.

"But if our players want to win the Premiership (II), now is time to start moving; now is the time to start to mean business," the no-nonsense coach added.

He said: "We can try to make a move to the Premiership (crown) now because there is no interference with the FA Cup, but we canít - well it is too bad. But I only have one real target and that is to get back to the Premier I and now Iím going to set the players a challenge - lets win the Premiership."

"Iím not going to say that is a target, Iím going to say thatís a challenge," he stressed.

For the record, in the first round, Sabah won eight out of the 11 matches. They also made it to the FA Cup semi-final but lost 2-1 on aggregate to Selangor.

In the league, they scored 20 goals and conceded nine.

Sabah will leave for two consecutive away matches tomorrow. On July 5, they will take on Kedah JKR.

Source: New Sabah Times


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Saturday, June 30, 2001

Fencing - Grooming junior fencers for Sukma

By Catherine Ong

KOTA KINABALU - Aspiring Malaysia junior fencers are being systematically groomed by highly dedicated officials in an effort to make their presence felt in their maiden appearance in the biennial Games.

The Sabah Fencing Association (SFA) at present has 30 Sukma (Malaysia Games) aspirants, who are being given extra and private tuition by committed officials.

Based on SFA's proper management and planning through its secretary Raymond Chan, it looks like their training programmes are not going to hit any snag at all, because they have selected students who will not be bogged down by their SPM examination during these two years.

In an interview, Raymond, who is also SFA's strategic planner together with hardworking international qualified coach Stephen Teo believe that their well planned training syllabus is effective.

He said some of the newcomers who get the fullest attention from them (segregated and intensive training after their usual sessions) since they enrolled six months ago are improving and are almost as good as the more advanced elite fencers.

"The freshies need lots of attention. Stephen and myself will take two or three trainees home to train at our own houses to give them 100 percent attention as far as their skills are concerned, as fencing requires personalised training on a one-to-one basis," he explained.

"By doing so, we would also be able to monitor their progress...whether they are responding well towards our programme and at the same time enable them to achieve maximum quality grooming to be on par with the advanced fencers in the shortest period as possible.

"We are also happy to note that a majority of the parents are doing their part and with their continuous support and encouragement, all these youngsters will bring pride to the State in future," he said.

Stephen on the other hand is imparting all his knowledge and expertise he earned in past attachments under Chinese and Russian coaches, skilfully combining both techniques.

Raymond on behalf of SFA thanked the Sabah Sports Board (SSB) for their support in their team preparations for the Sukma, whereby the allowances for trainees really means a lot to the students who are able to buy their daily requirements for the hectic training sessions.

SFA is using the SM Kian Kok Hall for their training, and also use the Likas Stadium on certain occasions either for their segregated private training or full strategic sessions.

Raymond also said SSB as well as their parent body the Malaysian Fencing Federation (MFF) are equally supportive when it comes to assisting SFA in getting the necessary equipment, making their training programme run smoothly.

Of the 30 specially selected group of Sukma potentials, SFA also has several notable boy and girl fencers who are already among those ranked in the country, and what makes SFA even more confident of medal contributors is that these fencers are still eligible for the Games in 2002.

Among the most notable ones are Malaysian gold medallist in the boy's epee Hiew Yit Shiong, national gold medallist in the girl's foil and epee Pang Nai Lun, and Kong Suk Man in the girl's sabre category (gold) and silver medal in the foil and epee.

These fencers would certainly act as Sabah's backbone during the Sukma and are currently showing a good example to the other trainees, where the real acid test to evaluate their progress would be next year.

SFA has plans to enter them in national junior and senior championships next year that should act as their warm-up or run-up to the Sukma.

Among the fast improving junior fencers are Maktab Nasional's Venesia Bachee, Samantha Decena and Stephanie Chung, Tshung Tsin's Sharlene Koh, Michelle Lee and Salina Loh, while the boys are Mohd. Shezari, Chan Hin

Ching and Chin Kim Keong of Tshung Tsin and Nazri Zainal of Kota Kinabalu High School.

Source: Borneo Bulletin


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M-League - Sabah players will finally get their wages

By Rizal Abdullah

JOHOR BARU: The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have come to the rescue of cash-strapped Sabah with a RM230,000 bailout.

The money will used to pay the players' and officials' salaries for the months of April, May and June.

Even the team's physiotherapist has to be paid his dues.

FAM secretary Datuk Dell Akhbar Khan said the amount would be deducted from FAM's annual subsidy for the state.

The FAM gives out annual grant of more than a million to each state FA.

Sabah FA (Safa) executive secretary Harry Baking said from Kota Kinabalu that the paycheques were sent through a courier service. The players and officials were called in to collect their cheque from the Safa office.

However, players who are owed salaries from last year will have to wait longer to get their dues.

Some of the local players are owed salaries for as long as five to six months.

The Sabah players had threatened to stay away from Sabah's away match against Kelantan TNB at the Sultan Mohamed IV Stadium in Kota Baru tomorrow and against Kedah JKR in Alor Star on July 5 if they were not paid.

But all that changed yesterday. The players will now travel with the team for the match against TNB.

The mood at yesterday's training session at the Likas Stadium was a happy one.

"At least the environment is much better now. We are very grateful to the FAM for taking heed of our appeal," said one player.

Source: The Star


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Friday, June 29, 2001

Karate - S'wak karatekas seek Sabah's help

By Catherine Ong

KOTA KINABALU - The Sarawak Karate Association (SAKA) has turned to the Sabah Karate Association (SKA) for help, in its bid to tune up their young karatekas for the 2002 Malaysia Games challenge.

Saka has every reason to do so knowing very well that Sabah karatekas are the nation's powerhouse especially among the juniors, and most important, the standard of karate in Sabah is obviously much higher.

"Comparing the standard between the two neighbouring states is too big a gap especially when it comes to applying the new WKF rules," said SKA vice-president Loh Beng Hooi yesterday.

"Saka president SAC II Abdul Wahap, who is also Sarawak Deputy Commissioner of Police suggested that their Sukma trainees get better sparring partners, such as the more experienced and exposed Sabahans," said Loh.

"Following such suggestions, officials from both associations met and deliberated on the matter and as a result, both parties agreed to become sparring partners as part of their preparations for the Sukma.

"On our part, our karatekas too need some strong opponents in training in order to further fine-tune the usage of the new WKF rules in both the kata and kumite events, apart from giving a helping hand to our neighbours in line with SKA's objectives," said Loh.

Loh said having Sarawak exponents as their training and sparring partners once in a while would benefit both states especially after SKA's moves to sign on an expert in Steve Morris as Sukma coach on a part-time basis failed to materialise.

"This is the only way to give them some sort of change in training, rather than having to face each other day in and day out which might bore them down considerably in their daily sessions.

"By doing so, Sarawak karatekas termed as the weakest in the country could at least learn from them," added Loh.

During a recent visit to Sarawak, Loh assisted Saka in staging their State Championship, and shared his know-how of the new WKF rules by conducting clinics and seminars for their judges, referees and exponents.

It was during the visit that Abdul Wahap and his committee brought up the idea of requesting such assistance from SKA, and since then both states agreed to make frequent exchange visits for sparring competitions.

Abdul Wahap said Saka was lucky that the Sarawak Government allocated a hefty sum for karate development and their Sukma preparations, and they would utilise these funds when they make visits to spar with Sabahans.

Loh said SKA would make a fresh application for financial assistance from the Culture, Youth and Sports Development Ministry and the Sabah Sports Board (SSB) to enable them to hold such sparring competitions.

He added SKA needs the funds to finance their trips to either Miri or Kuching by road or by air, and also to finance the sparring competitions when Sarawak karatekas make their return visits here.

Saka would be allocated with buses from the Government for their team and officials.

These visits not only enhance integration through sports between the two neighbouring states, but would also act as their evaluation and warm-up bouts as a run-up to the Sukma.

With frequent competitions amongst each other, Sarawak exponents, judges, referees and instructors could learn a lot on the new WKF styles, techniques and the fair and proper way of awarding points to kata and kumite exponents during competitions.

Loh, who is also SKA referees chairman and a highly qualified WKF judge and referee hopes that the SSB and the Ministry would give them a helping hand.

Source: Borneo Bulletin


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M-League - Sabah players to get their dues

By Catherine Ong

KOTA KINABALU - The Sabah players will get their outstanding wages soon. Yesterday the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) assistant secretary Dato Yap Nyim Keong said they would release the money before the end of the month.

"The matter will be resolved before the end of the month," said Yap when contacted yesterday. This means the Rhinos would be getting their dues before the second round opener against Kelantan TNB on July 1.

But whether the FAM will settle all the said five months' salary is left to be seen, as it will depend on how much money the Sabah Football Association (Sabah FA) is entitled to under the FAM subsidy scheme.

The Sabah FA received the first part of the allocation early this year, and now what is left is the balance, which is believed to be around RM400,000.

The Sabah FA is reported to owe the players their November and December 2000, April, May and June 2001 salaries. But for the month of November and December the players will only receive half-month salary because it is off-season. For the record, Sabah FA needs to fork out more than RM100,000 to settle the players and coaches salaries per month (only the M-league team).

With the FA only earning an average of RM9,000 per match from gate collections, the income is definitely not enough to cover their monthly expenses, and according to its executive secretary Harry Baking the FA needs RM300,000 to run the show.

This year, the FA did not receive any major sponsorship from the private sector or corporate bodies and they only received about RM30,000 from the Government. Besides the Premier II, Sabah are also taking part in the President's Cup and Under-19 championships, which from the aspect of expenses for an away trip, it is the same as the Premier II - about RM20,000 per trip.

The players had threatened to boycott Sabah's two away clashes against Kelantan TNB and Kedah JKR on July 1 and 5 respectively unless they get their outstanding wages.

They even faxed an appeal letter to the FAM, asking the national body to solve the matter.

Two days ago, the FAM general secretary Datuk Dell Akhbar Khan had said that they decided to give Sabah FA a helping hand by settling the salaries they owe the players.

Meanwhile, the Rhinos were seen training yesterday at the Penampang Stadium under the watchful eyes of coach Ken Worden ahead of their second round opener against Kelantan TNB.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

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Football - AFC express concern over Sarawak's players drug abuse

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have expressed their concern over the recent arrest of Sarawak Premier League footballers on the suspicion of drug addiction.

AFC secretary-general Datuk Peter Velappan said the arrest had not only tarnished the image of Sarawak but also that of Malaysia and Asia.

"The incident has been widely publicised as this is believed to be the first time that so many players from a single Asian team have been nabbed for (suspected) drug abuse," he said in a statement yesterday.

The five--Nazri Yunus, Shamsul Napiah, Safri Amit, Abang Zafari Othman and Mohd Firdaus Ishak--together with four others were picked up from two houses in Matang Jaya last Saturday.

However, police released the five on Wednesday after urine tests revealed that they are not drug addicts.

Velappan said the AFC had been fighting all negative influences in football such as the cheating on players' ages, bribery and corruption as well as drug abuse.

"We have been conducting dope tests at all AFC (sanctioned) tournaments to check drug abuse and all our members have been repeatedly reminded to stay vigilant on this matter," he said.

He said the FA of Malaysia (FAM) which had done well to combat bribery and corruption over the years must now pay close attention to the issue of drug abuse.

"We do not know if the problem is really widespread in Malaysia. But the fact that five players from a team have been caught is now reason to conduct regular doping control in the domestic Malaysian league."

Source: The Star


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Thursday, June 28, 2001

M-League - Brunei see red over 3rd place cash reward

By Benny Ang

BAFA have expressed their disappointment with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) following the ruling that Brunei's cash reward of RM15,000 for coming in third of the Premier Two standings after round one has been rewarded to Kelantan JKR instead.

According to the FAM, Brunei are not eligible for such cash rewards based on the fact that they are an invited team, meaning that what was supposed to be Brunei's has now gone to the team below them, that being Kelantan JKR.

Pg Hj Metusin Pg Hj Matasan, Secretary-General of BAFA, was unaware of the ruling when contacted by the Bulletin Sports and expressed his disappointment at the matter.

"I cannot understand the actions of the FAM regarding this matter. It is very surprising and I am very upset by this. We join the Malaysian League, we abide by their rules, we pay them the levy that every other team pays and we pay them the usual registration fee.

"We do everything by the book and to be treated in this manner is very surprising indeed," said Pg Metusin.

The levy amounts to 10 percent of the gate money collected at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium for every home game and according to Pg Metusin, Brunei have been paying this levy ever since they have been in the Malaysian League.

Johor FC received RM20,000 for coming in first while Sabah got RM17,500 for their second place finish.

And while RM15,000 is hardly a massive amount, it is the principle that matters as it seems that Brunei are not being treated on a level playing field to the rest of the teams.

Brunei coach Mick Jones had intended to use the money to bring the team to Kuching to play two friendlies during this rest period but was informed that the money had been awarded to Kelantan JKR instead.

Jones was clearly unhappy with this ruling but for fear of a disciplinary backlash from the FAM has opted to keep quiet about the subject.

Nevertheless by the same token that the FAM chose not to reward Brunei, then BAFA should perhaps be free from all monetary punishments handed out by FAM. As Pg Metusin pointed out, "We are subject to disciplinary action dished out by the FAM and Saiful Rizal who recently got red-carded has to stand before a board to explain his actions and perhaps be fined as well."

The ruling clearly borders on the ludicrous and if Brunei's participation is based around that theory, then the Malaysia Cup should have gone to Sarawak in 1999 with the final being played out for cosmetic purposes only.

Brunei's relegation to Premier Two should never have stood either as rulings on promotion and relegation shouldn't have to apply to invited teams.

The list is endless but as Pg Metusin rightly points out, regardless of Brunei's status as an invited team, if BAFA have abided by all rules as stated by the FAM then there is no reason why they should not be eligible for any rewards.

Once again, this latest move by the geniuses at the FAM will have done nothing to quell what has been described by many Brunei football fans as "anti-Brunei" sentiments, especially given the harsh treatment the players receive at the hands of the match officials.

It is a basic relationship flaw that has occurred here with the FAM set to get the maximum out of Brunei's participation in the Malaysian League but unwilling to pay what is due to Brunei.

Source: Borneo Bulletin


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Football - Cops release Sarawak players after dope test

KUCHING: Police have released the five Sarawak players who were arrested for suspected drug abuse last week after urine tests revealed that they were not drug addicts.

State police narcotics chief Supt Awang Bujang Awang Antek said all of them were released at about 3.30pm yesterday.

"I confirm that based on the reports received, the five players were not drug addicts," he said yesterday.

Awang Bujang, who refused to comment further, said the urine sample results had stated that the five players were not "drug dependent."

Under the law, if a person was confirmed as being a drug addict the court could decide whether to send him to a rehabilitation centre or place him under police supervision for a period of time.

The five players were with four other unidentified persons picked up from two houses at Matang Jaya following tip-off from the public.

Awang Bujang said it was up to the FA of Sarawak (FAS) to decide on their fate. The Sarawak FA disciplinary board will meet on Saturday.

Coach Jalil Ramli, however, has already made it clear there was no place in his team for any of the five, no matter the outcome of the disciplinary board.

"They said they regret what they have done," said the coach. "But there is nothing much I or other team officials can do about the matter. We visited them because the FA is their employer."

Source: BERNAMA

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