There was no announcement of what sort of rewards the Sabah football team will get for winning this year’s Malaysian Premier League title – Sabah’s first silverware after 23 years – when the trophy was handed over to the Rhinos at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday night.
Sabah played Kelantan in their last league match at home this season. The Rhinos won the match 1-0 and there were celebrations all round as more than 10,000 Sabah fans came to cheer their team and newfound glory.
No rewards were announced by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal after the presentation of the trophy at the end of the match.
“Rewards can wait. There are far more pressing matters that need to be looked into. Winning the (Premier) League is one thing as we have bigger hurdles to clear when we play in the prestigious Malaysia Cup.
“The Malaysia Cup is the most sought after silverware in Malaysian football. We don’t want to and will not drive into the sunset after winning the Premier League title. It is the beginning of a new journey for Sabah football,” said Jelius from Kota Kinabalu on Monday.
For the record, Sabah has never won the Malaysia Cup. Last year Sabah reached the semi-finals before bowing out to eventual champions Perak 7-2 on aggregate.
The 1995 FA Cup champions’ best in the Malaysia Cup is finishing runners-up in 2002 and 2003.
Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal drove home a strong message when he said: “play for the badge on your jersey” and the take the game to a higher level,” as the competition in the Malaysia Cup and next year’s Super League will be at a much higher level.
Winning the Premier League came with a promotion to the elite Super League. The last time Sabah played in the Super League was in 2012 and the East Malaysians were relegated.
“We have discussed the rewards but it will be announced later,” said the Chief Minister.
The Sabah team manager is former international Henry Saimpon while Datuk Peter Anthony is the acting Sabah FA president. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH