JOHOR BARU: Less than a week after being elected unopposed as the FA of Sarawak president at the extraordinary general meeting (EGM), Nyipa Tinggang has named former striker Pengiran Bala as the new coach, replacing Jalil Ramli.
Nyipa also named two other former players – Jamal Wasli and Awangku Shabuddin – as assistant coaches.
The new president has made it clear that financial constraints do not allow Sarawak to hire foreign players. And Bala said yesterday that he was ready to face the challenges in handling an all-local side.
“It is going to be tough. You need to have a strong team to face the challenges in the Super League and the other competitions,” he said in a telephone interview from Miri.
“I am aware that we cannot strengthen the team with foreigners. But it's okay ... I love challenges. If everyone play his part, things can be made easier.”
Businessman Nyipa, who is also the president of the Bintulu FA, announced after he was picked as the president to replace Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, who quit in late August, that his decision to go all-Sarawak for the time being was to put the FA back on track.
In this year's competitions, the Crocs qualified for the Super League from the Premier League via the playoffs and reached the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals, losing to eventual runners-up and Super League champions Negri Sembilan.
Bala said that he would retain some of the players from last year’s squad and the newcomers would be named after the completion of the Sarawak inter-division tournament which begins on Nov 7.
“You cannot ignore experience. Those who can impress during trials will make the grade. We will have a squad of youth and experience. The newcomers we will look at are primarily those who have played in the President’s Cup,” he said.
Bala added that he was glad that his employers, the Miri City Council, had granted him permission to take charge of the Sarawak team.
Bala donned Sarawak colours for 10 years from 1980. In 1988, he was voted Sarawak’s Player of the Year.