Rhinos counting on two new imports to improve the frontline


PETALING JAYA: Sabah will be banking on their new signings Spaniard winger Miguel Cifuentes (pic) and Brazilian striker Ramon Machado to add sting in their attack.

Both the attackers will only be available for matches after the second transfer window starting on July 5 but they have already started training with the Rhinos as coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee wants them to adapt to their ways and tactics before making their debuts for the club.

Cifuentes joins the club from Kelantan, while Machado last played for Azerbaijani club Gabala.

Kim Swee said he decided to plug the hole in attack following the absence of Darren Lok and Saddil Ramdani due to injuries.

“We need the depth, that’s crucial for us in every competition. We are missing Darren and Saddil, so these guys (Cifuentes and Machado) can make up for their absence,” said Kim Swee.

“I’ve seen Cifu’s quality when he played for Kelantan. He has years of experience in Spain too. As for Ramon, he has shown glimpses of his quality during training and we can’t wait to see him in action in the league.

“It’s too early to say if these men will do wonders but I’m confident they will add a lot of quality to our team.”

Sabah will now have eight foreign players.

The others are South Koreans – midfielder Park Tae-su and Ko Kwang-min; Brazilians – winger Jailton Paraiba, centreback Gabriel Peres; Portuguese midfielder Telmo Castanheira; and Indonesian winger Saddil.

With one more slot left to complete the nine foreign player quota allowed by the league, Kim Swee said he could be looking for one more.

“If the budget allows it, I would like to have one more. If we have the nine allowed by the league, then we will have more choices.”

For now, Kim Swee’s focus is to snap their three-game losing streak when they face Kelantan United in the Super League on Monday at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium in Kota Baru.

Their winless run started on May 28 when they lost to Kuala Lumpur 1-2 in the FA Cup, and then suffered two straight defeats in the Super League against Kedah (1-2) on June 2 and Police (0-1) on June 8.

“We had the lead in the first two games, but lost our focus and game plan. We’ve to hold on to our leads, I kept reminding them that,” he said.

“We need to get back our winning momentum. We have to be at a better position in the league.”

Sabah are fifth in the league with 24 points.

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