Sabah FA

Sabah Football Association (Malay: Persatuan Bolasepak Sabah) is a football club which 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 top division professional football league, the Malaysia Super League. The team's home matches are played at the 35,000 capacity Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah.

Sabah FA
Full nameSabah Football Association
(Persatuan Bolasepak Sabah)
(Malaysian language: Seladang / English: Banteng)
Founded1963; 57 years ago (1963)
GroundLikas Stadium
PresidentPeter Anthony
ManagerHenry Saimpon
CoachKurniawan Dwi Yulianto
LeagueMalaysia Super League
2019Malaysia Premier League, 1st
WebsiteClub website
Current season

The team won the Malaysia FA Cup in 1995, the Malaysian Premier League (top tier) in 1996, and the Malaysia Premier League (second tier) 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, subsequently losing to Bellmare Hiratsuka (now Shonan Bellmare) of J-League by an aggregate score of 1–7.


North Borneo football team became the first season winner of the Borneo Cup in 1962, one year before the merger to form Malaysia.
A friendly match poster between Sabah Invitation and Manchester United on 10 June 1981 in Likas Stadium, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4][5] 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.[6] In 1991, Sabah striker Matlan Marjan became the first Malaysian to score a double against England in 'A' international matches on 12 June 1991.[7]

Professional eraEdit

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.[8] 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. David Rocastle, Sabah reached the final of the 1998 Malaysia FA Cup.[9] With 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.

Recent eraEdit

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.[17][18][19][20] Fazrul and O'Callaghan were released early in the season few weeks before Malaysia Premier League kick off.[21][22] 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.[23][24] 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,[25] along with his dismissal during few of Sabah's matches thus allowing youngster Leopold Alphonso and Rawilson Batuil respectively to skip the team.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29][30][31]


Likas Stadium, the home stadium for Sabah FA.

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.


Season Manufacturer Sponsor
2004   Line 7 Dunhill
2005 TM
2005–06 TM Net
2006–07 Celcom, TMnet
2007–08 Celcom
2009 Streamyx
2010   Carino TM
2011   Adidas none
2013 Graceone
2014   Carino BSA
2015   Adidas Globaltec
2016 Sabah Energy & Asian Supply Base
2017   Carino

Club cultureEdit


  • Bola Sepak Sabah
  • Football Fans of Sabah
  • Kelab Penyokong Sabah Rhino
  • North Borneo Ultras (NBU)
  • Sabah Football Fans Club
  • 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.[32] It was a controversial move as Kuala Lumpur FA was already known as the Hawks.[33] Sabah FA reinstated its name as the Rhinos starting from 2015.[17]


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/Malaysia Super League
Malaysia Premier League
2001, 2010
Malaysia FA Cup
1993, 1994, 1998
Malaysia Cup
1996, 2002, 2003
Malaysian Charity Shield
Borneo Cup (13×)
1962, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972
1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1985

Club recordsEdit

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

Season League Cup Asia
Division Pld W D L F A D Pts Pos Charity Malaysia FA Competition Result
1995 Liga Perdana 28 13 5 10 60 45 +15 44 5th Semi-finals Champions Asian Cup Winners' Cup Round of 16
1996 Liga Perdana 28 17 7 4 49 21 +28 58 1st Runner-up Runner-up Quarter-finals
1997 Liga Perdana 28 14 7 7 42 28 +14 49 3rd Group stage 2nd round
1998 Perdana 1 22 8 7 7 22 26 –4 31 5th Semi-finals Runner-up
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
2002 Perdana 1 26 13 8 5 48 30 +18 47 3rd Runner-up Quarter-finals
2003 Perdana 1 24 10 8 6 34 22 +12 38 4th Runner-up Semi-finals
2004 Super League 21 4 5 12 22 35 –13 17 6th Semi-finals Quarter-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
2006–07 Premier League 20 6 9 5 26 21 +5 27 5th Semi-finals Quarter-finals
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


  1. ^ Draw were followed by penalty shootouts for an additional point.

Performances in AFC competitionsEdit

1995: Round of 16
Season Competition Round Opponent Home Away
1995–96 Asian Cup Winners' Cup First round   An Giang 3–0 0–1
Second round   Bellmare Hiratsuka 1–2 0–5


First-team squadEdit

As of 6 February 2020[36]

2020 Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   MAS Wan Azraie
2 DF   MAS Mafry Balang
3 DF   MAS Rawilson Batuil (captain)
4 DF   MAS Dendy Lowa
6 DF   KOR Park Tae-soo
7 MF   MAS Ricco Nigel Milus
8 MF   MAS Azzizan Nordin (Vice-captain)
9 FW   FRA Guy Gnabouyou
10 MF   NAM Petrus Shitembi
11 MF   MAS Alto Linus
13 MF   MAS Hamran Peter
14 DF   MAS Jenius Karib
15 DF   MAS Randy Baruh
16 DF   MAS Zubir Azmi
No. Pos. Nation Player
17 FW   MAS Arius Dius Jais
18 MF   MAS Mohd Azwan Abdul Fattah
19 MF   MAS Ummareng Bacok
20 FW   SRB Rodoljub Paunović
21 FW   MAS Maxius Musa
22 GK   MAS Robson Rendy Rining
23 MF   MAS Sabri Sahar
24 MF   MAS Mohd Syukri Baharun
25 DF   MAS Evan Wensley
27 FW   MAS Stanley Sulong
28 MF   MAS Mazlan Yahya
29 FW   MAS Shahrizam Sahar
30 GK   MAS Rozaimie Rohim
93 MF   THA Dennis Buschening

For recent transfers, see 2020 Sabah FA season.

Last updates: 06 Feb 2020

Development squadEdit

U21 squadEdit

No. Name Nationality Position(s) Date of Birth
1 Joslan Aping   GK 1999
25 Mohd Ramzi Mustakim   GK 1999
30 Fahmi Ikhwan Muhd Azmi   GK 2000
2 Abdul Rahim Razali   RB / RWB 1999
3 Gerald Gadit   CB 16/5/99
5 Mohd Faqrul Idris   RB / RWB 2000
6 Abdul Hanafie Tokyo Abdul Hashim   CB 2000
12 Mohd Izzat Aziz   LB / CB 2/1/99
13 Fyellonarllye Mcaxora Jappri   RB / RWB 2000
17 Xsevier Xcico Felex   CB / DM 5/3/00
23 Muhd Rozaily Akhmad   CB 2000
8 Muhammad Rusydi Musa   CM 1999
10 Muhammad Syahryl Aiman Saiddin   AM / CM 1999
14 Mohd Jasren Abdul Jamel   DM / CM 2000
15 Mohd Naaim Firdaus Stibin   RW / LW 1999
16 Leonardo Lisua   RM / RW 1999
18 Owen Piou@Piyau   CM 2000
20 Erick Odo   AM / CM 1999
21 Hazrul Ahmad   CM 2000
22 Nard Cylasto Christopher   LM / LW 2000
7 Mohd Sahrizan Saidin   ST 1999
9 Mohd Hizaz Mohd Lokman   ST 2000
11 Muhammad Faqhrurazi Ahmad   ST 1999
19 Ronelson Madus   ST 2000
24 Eric Junior George   ST 1999
As of 8 March 2020:[37]

U19 squadEdit

No. Name Nationality Position(s) Date of Birth
1 Mohd Azlizan Mohd Azlan   GK 2001
25 Joffy John   GK 2002
30 Muhammad Azrin Paiting   GK 1998
2 Mohd Faiz Danial Ag Hussin   RB / RWB 2002
4 Ervin Ebin   CB 2001
5 Mohd Syahmi Idris   CB 2002
6 Ritchie Svenson Fred Donny   CB 2001
12 Dani Adli Saiful Azuan@Joe   LB / LWB 2002
15 Seherry Aladin   CB 2001
16 Mohd Ferhan Mohd Johar   RB / RWB 2002
28 Jemslee Cheng   CB / LB / RB 2001
29 Armind Muhd Nunung   CB 2002
7 S.A. Radzee Eqmal S.A. Ramli   RW / RM 2001
8 Rusdi Roslan   CM 2002
10 Yuseril Yusekil   AM / CM 2001
11 Rozacklye Yanam   LW / LM 2002
17 Mohd Nasip Mohd Zain   LW / LM 2001
18 Mohd Syukri Suaimi   RM / RW 2002
20 Fadhli Dzil Ikram Rujin   CM 2002
22 Muhd Shahfiq Isra Yusof   CM 2001
24 Mohd Zakisadruddin Jumaad   AM / LW / RW 2002
9 Mohd Ezaidi Jurimo   ST 2002
13 Mohd Nazemizan Naslon   ST 2001
19 Mohd Syaril Abdullah   ST 2001
23 Jeckelly Manir   ST 2002


Current coaching staffEdit

Position Name
President   Datuk Peter Anthony
Deputy President  Datuk Juil Nuatim, Dato Abdul Rahman Zakaria
Manager   Henry Saimpon
Head Coach   Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto
Aset. Coach   Jelius Ating
Asst. Coach   Burhan Ajui
GK coach   Mark Damun Sagar
Fitness coach   Sofie Imam Faizal
Fitness coach   Jimmy Jumat
Team Doctor   Hoari Krishnan a/l Radakrishnan
Physio   Matlan Basir
Masseur   Madlin Saman
Masseur   Bonaventure Michael
U21 Manager   Datuk Juil Nuatim
U21 Head coach   Justin Ganai
U21 Assistant Coach   Billyton Vun Kit Ming
U21 GK coach   Dante S Tipay
U21 Fitness coach   Handly Sekukut
U21 Physio   Halmond Ting Kai Soon
U19 Manager   Dato Abdul Rahman Mohd Zakaria
U19 Head coach   Johnny Dominicus
U19 Asst. coach   Mohd Faisal Haji Ahmad
U19 GK coach   Jasrih Jabidin
U19 Fitness coach   Awang Jasrie Awang Matusin
U19 Physio   Maxson Michael George
Kitman   Azree Rosli

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)


Coach historyEdit

The following coaches won at least one trophy when in charge of Sabah:

Name Period Trophies
  Kelly Tham 1995–1996 1995 Malaysia FA Cup
   Ron Smith 1996–1998 1996 Premier League
  Jelius Ating 2017–2019 2019 Malaysia Premier League

Former notable playersEdit

Notable former players that represented their national team:

Football clubsEdit

Affiliated clubs within the associationEdit

Affiliated clubs outside the associationEdit


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External linksEdit