PETALING JAYA: Sarawak will bank on their young guns for this year’s Super League challenge.
Coach David Usop, who steered the Crocs to eighth spot last year, is set to unleash several President’s Cup players (Under-21) this season.
He believes that his young charges – national Under-22 midfielder Nur Shamie Iszuan Amin and rookies Rodney Akwensivie, Tommy Mawat Mada, Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak and Awang Kamaruddin Awang Bohan – can step up to the plate.
“I have four players promoted from the President’s Cup. They will feature in the first eleven with the seniors retained from last year. For now, it’s more of a development plan. After two or three years, we will set higher targets when the youngsters have more exposure,” said David.
Last season, Sarawak lived dangerously in the relegation zone before bouncing back at the tail end of the competition to finish ahead of Pahang, Penang, Police and Terengganu.
This time, the Football Association of Sarawak (FAS) have set a moderate target for their inexperienced side.
“The management does not want to put too much pressure on us by setting targets. But, as a coach, I want them to finish in the top half of the 12-team standings. And if we win a trophy, it will be a bonus,” said David.
Sarawak signed midfielder Lee Jong-ho of South Korea and striker Mark Hartmann of the Philippines last week after a pre-season tour of Perth, Australia (Dec 16-25).
Two more strikers – Boakay Eddie Foday of Liberia and Bruno Baiano of Brazil – are undergoing trials for the third spot.
But the duo have so far failed to live up to Usop’s expectations. They failed to score in the friendly against Sabah, who won 1-0, at the State Stadium in Kuching on Sunday.