Sarawak will lose the services of three first team players next season. The trio, defenders Sazali Mohd. Ramli and Zaidel Sakup and midfielder Zapri Manai, have opted for the security of their jobs instead of the lucrative but relatively short career of professional football.
The three players have submitted their resignation letters to Football Association of Sarawak and their decisions are final. Vest is philosophical about their departure saying at a press conference yesterday. “If they don’t want to play anymore, I don’t want them anyway because we will be able to take players from the reserve squad.”
Players like Desmond Maran, Azizan Hassan, Jeffrey Lana, Johnny Joseph and Patrick Hitler from the reserve squad will be given a chance to replace the trio who resigned this season.
Vest was a bit peeved by the rather late resignations of the players saying if he had known earlier, it might have influenced his decisions on the new signings. By coincidence all the three players are left footed players.
Zaidell was a the first choice defender last season partnering David Evans in the middle of the defence. Although not always listed in the first eleven, Sazali Mohd. Ramli featured regularly in Vest’s line up in the left back position while Zapri Manai played regularly in the left midfield position.
Despite the loss of two defenders, Vest is unperturbed about his defence next season. In fact part of his problem is solved by the signing of Jasni Mohd. from Johor who happens to be a left sided defender.
Vest will also be taking a hard look at Jeffery Lana, Johnny Joseph, Azizan Hassan and Desmond Maran who are defenders in the reserve squad.
If the need arises, he can convert some of the midfielders into defenders. Nazri Yunos had been deployed in the flank back positions in the past and acquitted himself well. Vest said that he might also consider playing veteran midfielder Mohd. Ali Shafiee in the defence.
Meanwhile the two new foreign players, Alistair Edwards and Billy Bone, will be arriving in Kuching on Sunday. Vest does not foresee any trouble for both of them in adapting to the climate and the style of playing in the M-League.
Edwards’ quality and effectiveness have been proven by his previous successful stints in Malaysian football while Bone had played in Hong Kong and Singapore before and is well aware of the demands of the game in this region.
The Bujang Senangs will start their training tommorow and will be leaving for Tasmania on March 6 for a 12 day pre season tour. Vest views the pre season tour with great importance saying that it will be a time when the players can build up their team work and match fitness.