PETALING JAYA: Sabah midfielder Azzizan Nordin can’t wait to experience football in Indonesia during the East Java Governor Cup from Feb 10-20.
The Rhinos will use the tournament as their final tune-up before kicking off their Super League campaign on Feb 28.
Sabah, who are drawn in Group B with hosts Arema, Persija Jakarta and Persela Lamongan, will be playing their matches at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang. Group A consists of Madura United, Persebaya Surabaya, Persik Kediri and Bhayangkara.
Azzizan, who was a key figure in helping Sabah emerge as Premier League champions last season and win promotion, said the competition would toughen them up.
“The passion of Indonesian football fans are well known in the region so it will be good for us to experience the environment, ” said the 25-year-old.
“We are playing against top Indonesian teams. Persebaya were the runners-up in the Indonesian League and one of the biggest team in South-East Asia. The Indonesian clubs have good foreign players too so it will be good test.
“We will go all out and learn from this tournament and try to improve ourselves. The key is to get ourselves ready for the new season... we need to hit the ground running.”
The Rhinos are expected to announce their fifth and final foreign import after the tournament.
Sabah’s new coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto is on the lookout for a midfielder after securing the services of Hector Ramos from Puerto Rico and Thai-German winger Dennis Buschening.
He has retained Serbian forward Rodoljub Paunovic and South Korean defender Park Tae-soo.
The 25-year-old Azzizan said the team had a good outing in their earlier pre-season tour in the Philippines where they beat Kaya FC 2-0 (Jan 21) and Stallion Laguna 2-1 (Jan 23).
“The players are still adapting to the coach’s style. We did well in the Philippines so it’s a good sign.”
“With four more weeks to go, I think we have enough time to be firing on all cylinders when the season starts.”
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