Sabah Football Association (Malay: Persatuan Bolasepak Sabah) is a football club that supervises football in the state of Sabah. The association's football team competes in Malaysia's football league representing the state of Sabah in Borneo. It is one of the 14 state teams of the Malaysian football structure. They currently compete in Malaysia's second division professional football league, the Malaysia Premier League. The team's home matches are played at the 35,000 capacity Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah.
|Full name||Sabah Football Association|
(Persatuan Bolasepak Sabah)
(Malaysian language: Seladang / English: Wilderbeest)
|Head Coach||Jelius Ating|
|League||Malaysia Premier League|
|2019||Malaysia Premier League, 1st|
The team has won the Malaysia FA Cup (1995), Premier League in 1996, and the Malaysia Premier League in 2019. In 1995, the team also advanced to the second round of the Asian Cup Winners' Cup after beating An Giang of V-League by 3–1 on aggregate, only to crashing out later to Bellmare Hiratsuka of J-League by 1–7 on aggregate.
From the 1950s until 1963, Sabah competed as North Borneo football team in the Borneo Cup together with Sarawak football team and Brunei national football team. Following the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, the North Borneo Football Association (NBFA) changed its name to Sabah Football Association (Sabah FA). Sabah qualify into the Malaysia Cup for the first time in 1977 and enter the competition in 1978.
Amateur and semi-pro eraEdit
Sabah was a well known team during the Malaysian football amateur and semi-pro era as state team produced many quality players namely the trio of James Wong, Hassan Sani and Peter Rajah. These players during their time led Sabah to become one of Malaysian football's most feared teams during the 80's. One fine example was during the 1979 Malaysian League where Sabah started slowly. After a run of 8 matches, they stood with 3 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses but, during the later stages they stepped up a gear or five by winning all their remaining 8 matches with most of them by huge margins, including an incredible 8–0 thrashing of Sarawak, 11–0 hammering of Perak and the 6–1 beating of Terengganu. At the end of the season, Sabah finished as runners-up behind Singapore and became the highest scoring team with 49 goals in 12 games, which is an average of 3 goals per game. In 1991, Sabah striker Matlan Marjan became the first Malaysian to score a double against England in 'A' international matches on 12 June 1991.
When professional football was introduced by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), Sabah also made a reputation of being one of the Malaysian League's most competitive teams. Quality professional players were produced from the ranks during the 1990s, most notably Matlan who helped Sabah finish as runners-up during 1993 and 1994 Malaysia FA Cup, and who at one time was appointed as the national team captain by the then Malaysian national team coach Claude Le Roy. The positive results gained from the beginning of professional era however was cut short by the match fixing scandal that rocked Malaysian football in 1994. The scandal almost destroyed Sabah and Malaysian football in general. Matlan was the one of several players found guilty for being involved in the scandal. As a punishment for their involvement in match fixing, he and the other players were banned for life by FIFA from being involved in football and banished from the state of Sabah by the state government under the Restricted Residence Act. After the scandal, Sabah began its rebuilding process to regain their reputation in Malaysian football. Sabah won their first professional trophy, the Malaysia FA Cup in 1995. In the 1996 season, Sabah won their first league title and went through to the final of the Malaysia Cup for the first time but were beatened by Selangor on penalties. The 2000 season could be considered as Sabah's worst since joining the Malaysian professional league. They were relegated to the second division and could not get past the group stages of the Malaysia Cup. However, Sabah quickly regained its performance in the 2001 season where they finished as runners-up behind Johor FC. In the 2002 season, Sabah lining up players of calibre such as Zainizam Marjan, Khairul Azman Mohamed and foreign striker Josiah Seton, finished third in the league and again managed to get through to the final of Malaysia Cup by beating Selangor Public Bank and Perak. Sabah however finished as runners-up yet again by losing to the same team that beat them in 1996 final, Selangor. This time, Sabah lost by 'golden goal' scored by Mohd Amri Yahyah. In 2003, Sabah again finished third in Liga Premier One. Sabah again reached the final of Malaysia Cup. This time they lost to club-side Selangor MPPJ by 0–3, with hat-trick from Juan Manuel Arostegui.
When the Malaysia Super League (MSL) was introduced in 2004, Sabah struggled to be competitive against other teams in the top league. Sabah only managed to stay in Super League for two seasons as they were relegated to Malaysia Premier League (MPL) for the 2005/06 season. After the relegation to 2nd tier league, Sabah continued to struggle for promotion to get back into the top division. They lost to Pahang in the 2006/07 season play-off for a place in 2007/08 Malaysia Super League. After 6 years playing in the 2nd tier MPL, Australian coach Gary Phillips was able to guide Sabah to promotion in 2010 – his first season in charge. After poor results which have affected Sabah's performance in the 2011 league and also the cup, Gary Phillips was replaced by Justin Ganai to save Sabah from relegation zone. Justin improved Sabah performance in 2011 Malaysia Cup where the team reached the quarterfinals. He was retained as head coach for the 2012 MSL season but step down as the league game were 2 games left. Sabah also relegated back to MPL after lose to Kedah in play-off match by which Pahang (was MPL side) won the play-off. Salt was added to the wound as the relegation was followed by them failing to qualify to the group stage of the 2012 Malaysia Cup. Sabah started their 2013 season back in MPL as their main defenders, Sipitang duo Ronny Harun and Mafry Balang left for Borneo rival Sarawak and Bongawan young striker Rozaimi Abdul Rahman was loaned out to Harimau Muda A. 2013 season was led by Northern Irishman, David McCreery and they end up in 5th place but still available for Malaysia Cup play-off by which they lose heavily 0–4 to Negeri Sembilan at Shah Alam Stadium. McCreery left at the end of the season with disappointment. The year 2014 saw a major changes in the team's sponsorship by which local brand Carino was signed as their kit supplier and Ararat Sports plus BSA as their sponsors. During this season, Sabah ex-player and also a legend in 90's, Milomir Šešlija become their head coach replacing McCreery in the hot seat. National striker, Rozaimi and winger/midfielder Maxsius Musa also returned after their loan to Harimau Muda A and Harimau Muda B respectively finished. But to no avail, they finished 8th out of 12 in the MPL, missed the Malaysia Cup group stage for third consecutive seasons and also kicked out from FA Cup in the early stage. This was worse than the 2013 season. Milomir's contract was not renewed at the end of the season.
Just after 2014 season finished, another major changes was made by which George O'Callaghan was signed as their Technical Director and Justin is back as temporary head coach. Sabah FA chief executive officer TC Goh also came as team manager by which he and O'Callaghan makes a big signings. Carino remained as their kit supplier but only for the women team, futsal team, President Cup and U19 team. Adidas, Globaltech, UZMA, Grace One, BSA and Ararat Sports are their current sponsors. Sabah FA successfully signed twice African Player of The Year, El Hadji Diouf and his compatriot Abdoulaye Faye followed by Irish-born Libyan footballer, Éamon Zayed and Singaporean striker Fazrul Nawaz. Fazrul and O'Callaghan were released early in the season few weeks before Malaysia Premier League kick off. Fazrul was replaced with Joel Chianese during the mid-season transfer window in April and O'Callaghan was replaced with Brisbane Roar ex-head coach Mike Mulvey in February 2015. Both Chianese and Mulvey are Australian. After 3 games working as technical director, Mulvey was appointed as the new head coach while Justin went back to the President Cup team. During this current season, fans began to return and fill the home stadium. But as the seasons passing by, Sabah lose mostly of their matches during the second half of the season. Diouf's dissatisfaction with Sabah FA management plans, along with his dismissal during few of Sabah's matches thus allowing youngster Leopold Alphonso and Rawilson Batuil respectively to skip the team. Promising start of 2015 season end with huge disappointment for the team as they sit at 7th place, missing Malaysia Cup automatic slot and also the play-off. TC Goh, Mulvey and big name players such as Diouf, Zayed, Faye and Chianese plus local golden boy, Rozaimi Abdul Rahman left at the end of the season due to no contract renewal.
Following much efforts and various reorganisation made on the team, Sabah FA was crowned as the champion of the 2019 Malaysia Premier League for the first time since they last lifted the old first division title back in 1996. Having early secured various imports such as Brazilian Luiz Júnior, South Korean defender Park Tae-soo and Serbian midfielder Luka Milunović in the 1st leg transfer before securing another two important players such as Angolan striker Aguinaldo da Veiga together with Turkmenistan midfielder Ahmet Ataýew in the 2nd leg transfer that was combined with Serbian striker Rodoljub Paunović and various local talents, the team able to won thirteen matches from a total of 19 matches thus qualifying the 2020 Malaysia Super League.
- Likas Stadium
- Penampang Stadium
- Tawau Stadium
Likas Stadium is the current home ground for Sabah FA. Penampang Stadium is occasionally used for afternoon matches, usually when Likas Stadium was renovated or if floodlights require maintenance. Tawau Sports Complex is a regular venue that is only used sometimes for the Malaysia Premier League.
|2016||Sabah Energy & Asian Supply Base|
- Bola Sepak Sabah
- Football Fans of Sabah
- Kelab Penyokong Sabah Rhino
- North Borneo Ultras (NBU)
- Sabah Football Fans Club
- SabahRhinos.com since 1997
- Tawau City Hoodlum (TCH)
- The Rhinos Troops
- Sabah Diehard
Sabah FA was formerly called the Rhinos since the golden 90s era but in 2010 SAFA changed the mascot to Hawks to rebrand the ailing football team. It was a controversial move as Kuala Lumpur FA was already known as the Hawks. Sabah FA reinstated its name as the Rhinos starting from 2015.
Sabah FA neighbouring rival is Sarawak FA with both claiming the title of 'the best in Borneo' and referred to as the Borneo Derby.
Radio coverage of regular season matches are broadcast on Sabah FM 89.9 in Malay language.
|Liga Perdana or Malaysia Super League (1x)|
|Malaysia Premier League (1x)|
|Malaysia FA Cup (1x)|
|Malaysian Charity Shield|
|Borneo Cup (13x)||
1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1985
- As of 13 July 2019
- Pld = Played, W = Won, D = Drawn, L = Lost, F = Goals for, A = Goals against, Pts= Points, Pos = Position
1st or Champions 2nd or Runner-up 3rd place Relegation
|1995||Liga Perdana||28||13||5||10||60||45||+15||44||5th||–||Semi-finals||Champions||Asian Cup Winners' Cup||Round of 16|
|1997||Liga Perdana||28||14||7||7||42||28||+14||49||3rd||–||Group stage||2nd round||–||–|
|1999||Perdana 1||18||6||7[a]||5||20||20||+0||29||4th||–||Group stage||Semi-finals||–||–|
|2000||Perdana 1||22||4||4||14||22||41||–19||16||11th||–||Group stage||1st round||–||–|
|2001||Perdana 2||22||14||3||5||41||22||+19||45||2nd||–||Group stage||Semi-finals||–||–|
|2005||Super League||21||6||4||11||25||39||–14||22||8th||–||Group stage||Quarter-finals||–||–|
|2005–06||Premier League||21||7||7||7||32||31||+1||28||4th||–||Group stage||1st round||–||–|
|2007–08||Premier League||24||13||5||6||48||27||+21||44||4th||–||Group stage||Quarter-finals||–||–|
|2009||Premier League||24||5||7||12||18||31||–13||22||9th||–||Group stage||1st round||–||–|
|2010||Premier League||22||15||3||4||42||14||+28||48||2nd||–||Group stage||1st round||–||–|
|2011||Super League||26||7||7||12||24||32||–8||28||10th||–||Quarter-finals||1st round||–||–|
|2012||Super League||26||7||7||12||33||52||–19||28||13th||–||Not qualified||1st round||–||–|
|2013||Premier League||22||9||3||10||42||46||–4||30||5th||–||Not qualified||2nd round||–||–|
|2014||Premier League||22||6||6||10||21||30||–9||24||7th||–||Not qualified||2nd round||–||–|
|2015||Premier League||22||8||3||11||37||42||–5||27||7th||–||Not qualified||1st round||–||–|
|2016||Premier League||22||5||5||12||26||41||–15||20||9th||–||Not qualified||3rd round||–||–|
|2017||Premier League||22||9||3||10||33||38||–5||30||7th||–||Not qualified||Quarter-finals||–||–|
|2018||Premier League||20||7||7||6||35||26||+9||28||6th||–||Semi-finals||2nd round||–||–|
|2019||Premier League||19||13||4||2||32||15||+17||43||1st||–||2nd round||–||–|
- Draw were followed by penalty shootouts for an additional point.
Performances in AFC competitionsEdit
- Asian Cup Winners' Cup: 1 appearance
- 1995: Round of 16
|1995–96||Asian Cup Winners' Cup||First round||An Giang||3–0||0–1|
|Second round||Bellmare Hiratsuka||1–2||0–5|
- As of 15 May 2019
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
For recent transfers, see 2019 Sabah FA season.
|No.||Name||Nationality||Position(s)||Date of Birth|
|2||Sullan Elvis Noh||RB / RWB||1997|
|5||Mohd Syahrafiezaim Samli||RB / RWB||1996|
|6||Mohd Sahri Abdul Razak||CB||1996|
|9||Abdullah Abdul Rahman||LB / LM / LW||1997|
|12||Devid Ansarui||RB / RM||28/2/96|
|16||Eddey Ladius||LB / LWB||1997|
|17||Mohd Jayman Mohd Jaymic||CB||1996|
|20||Masmilan Anil Matlan||CB||15/7/96|
|28||Mohd Syafiq Mohd Salleh||CB||2000|
|30||Mohd Danishaizz Anuar||CB / DM||1997|
|4||Dexy Mildy Juanis||CM||12/12/96|
|7||Stanley Sulong||AM / CM||18/2/97|
|8||Mohd Radzji Saad||DM / CM||1997|
|13||Mohd Nur Khairuddin Herlambang||RM / RW / LM / LW||1997|
|14||Mohd Nazri Sisa||LM / LW||1997|
|21||Fazriel Hanafi Stepanus||AM / CM||15/5/96|
|24||Mohd Ramzainee Ramlee||CM||24/7/97|
|26||O'Neil Shanahan Marcellinus Bungkilan||LM / LW / ST||4/2/96|
|27||Mohd Azmizan Ruslih||CM||1/7/98|
|29||Mohd Zaki Sapri||CM||29/1/97|
|11||Mohd Hazani Matusin||ST||1997|
|18||Abdul Raihan Abdul Rajum||ST||1998|
|No.||Name||Nationality||Position(s)||Date of Birth|
|25||Mohd Ramzi Mustakim||GK||1999|
|2||Kelvin Pengiran||RB / RWB||28/10/98|
|4||Jeniun Karib||LB / LWB||29/1/98|
|5||Evan Wensley Wenceslaus||CB||1998|
|14||Muhammad Syahmil Nizam Igbal Khan||CB||1999|
|15||Mohd Naaim Firdaus Stibin||RB / RWB||1999|
|19||Sahrul Asnan||LB / LWB||1998|
|29||Mohd Shariman Mukarim||LB / LM||1998|
|6||Leonardo Lisua||RW / RM||1999|
|7||Mohd Aidil Safee||CM||30/1/98|
|11||Mohd Aidil Shahrolmizan Asimin||AM / CM||23/2/98|
|17||Muhammad Amirul Afiq Ali||LW / LM||1999|
|18||Shafiq Ichwan Saiman||RM / RW||2000|
|20||Beckham Rico Louisee||CM||1998|
|21||Mohd Syukri Baharun||CM||1999|
|22||Mohd Suzairee Samail||LM / LB||26/1/98|
|23||Mohd Asri Rustam||LW / LM||1998|
|24||Muhd Faqhrurazi Ahmad||RW / RM||1999|
|26||Muhd Aidil Muhimian||CM||1999|
|9||Mohd Hizaz Mohd Lokman||ST||2000|
|10||Mohd Iqhbal Kassim||ST||1999|
|12||Mohd Shah Mizie Abdul Rahim||ST||1998|
|28||Muhammad Shahrul Nizam Junimin||ST||1999|
Current coaching staffEdit
Managers and coachesEdit
- Goh Thian Chuan (1999, 2015)
- Osman Jamal (2000–2001)
- Mohd Joehari Mohd Ayub (2004–2005)
- Abdul Rahman Zakaria (2006–2009, 2014)
- Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah (2009)
- Gary Phillips (2010–2011)
- Shahriman Abdullah (2011–2012)
- Alijus Sipil (2013–2014)
- Adlane Messelem (2017)
- Juil Nuatim (2018)
- Peter Anthony (2018)
- Stanley Chew (197?–1979, 1985, 1987–1988)
- Gerd Schmidt (1980–1983)
- James Wong (1984)
- Azah Ezrein (1986)
- Frank Upton (1989–1990)
- Roy Lorenson (1990–1992)
- Oldřich Sedláček (1992–1995)
- Kelly Tham (1995–1996)
- Ron Smith (1996–1997)
- Ken Shellito (1998)
- Justin Ganai (1999, 2005–2006, 2011–2012, 2015)
- Ken Worden (1999)
- David Woodfield (2000–2001)
- Peter Butler (2001–2004)
- José Garrido (2004–2005)
- José Luis (2005)
- Drago Mamić (2007–2008)
- Wathiq Naji Jasim (2008–2009)
- Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah (2009)
- Gary Phillips (2010–2011)
- Andrew Majjangkim (2012)
- David McCreery (2012–2013)
- Johnny Dominicus (2013)
- Milomir Šešlija (2014)
- Mike Mulvey (2015)
- Vjeran Simunić (2015–2016)
- Steve Vilmiaire (2016–2017)
- Jelius Ating (2017–)
The following coaches won at least one trophy when in charge of Sabah:
|Kelly Tham||1995–1996||1995 Malaysia FA Cup|
|Ron Smith||1996–1998||1996 Premier League|
|Jelius Ating||2017–||2019 Malaysia Premier League|
Former notable playersEdit
Players that represented the Malaysia national football team while playing for Sabah.
- Sumardi Hajalan
- Bobby Gonzales
- Dass Gregory Kolopis
- G. Jeevananthan
- Hassan Sani
- James Wong
- Julamri Muhammad
- Khairul Azman Mohamed
- Matlan Marjan
- Mohd Anis Faron
- Mohd Fareed Shah Hassan
- Mohd Jaya Kasim
- Ong Kim Swee
- Peter Rajah
- Razali Zinin
- Ronny Harun
- Rozaimi Abdul Rahman
- Suharmin Yusof
- Syed Adney
- Tony Wong
- Wong Sai Kong
- Zainizam Marjan
- Gerald Mojiliu
Affiliated clubs within the associationEdit
Affiliated clubs outside the associationEdit
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