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By Miguel Eril
KOTA KINABALU: Milomir Seslija officially started his role as the new head coach of Sabah on Monday.
The former Sabah midfield stalwart signed a one-year contract with the Sabah Football Association (Safa), thus returning to the team that he helped win the 1995 FA Cup.
A Milomir-inspired Sabah were also Premier League champions and losing Malaysia Cup finalists the following year.
As expected Milomir, or Milo to his fans back in the 90s, was happy to be back in Sabah, frequently referring to it as ‘my second home’.
“I’m very honoured and I respect Safa for their decision to appoint me as the head coach,” he said after the signing ceremony.
Sabah FA deputy president Datuk Lawrence Gimbang, vice president III KH Tan, secretary general Alijus Sipil, assistant secretary general I Junaidi Ahmad Fauzi, executive secretary Hasbullah Yahya and Safa’s head of women’s football Datin Malianah Ugau were present.
Milomir promised he would try his best to bring positive impact to the State senior side and he believed it was achievable with the support from all.
The Bosnian was referring to Safa, coaches and team officials, the players, supporters and members of the media to give him the full backings as he tried to lift Sabah football to the level that Sabahans expected it to be.
Milomir, who turned 49 on Sunday, also stressed there must not be interference from anyone when he manages the Premier League side.
“I don’t see the reason why we cannot succeed if everyone, myself included, do their jobs well,” said Milomir.
The lanky former midfielder however reminded that success would not be achieved overnight, though he said his immediate task would be to answer the expectations of all Sabah soccer fans to see the Sabahawks get promotion at the end of next season.
“The most important thing now is that we must have a (series of) good selection trials to find the best players. And if we are to get West Malaysians they must have the qualities of foreign footballers.
“Safa has to help and support me to bring quality players. The players too have to change their attitude, they must behave, show good discipline and be professional…they must have pride when wearing the State jersey and the must give 100 per cent when on the field.
“What I can say is that I cannot promise anything to be champions. But, I know we will better compare to last year if we work harder and with consistent development.
“We will try our best,” said Milomir.
Meanwhile, Lawrence assured Milomir will have a free-hand in managing the Sabah squad as he welcomed the former, and still, fans’ favourite back to Sabah.
“He is no stranger to Sabah as he was in the title winning squad of 95′ and 96′. We are very happy that has signed with us and he has pledged to do his best to bring Sabah football to a level that we all wanted it to be.
“We have given him all the power to do what is good for the State team and we are hopeful with his commitment and love for Sabah (that we will succeed),” said Lawrence when witnessing the signing of contract.
For the record, Sabah have not had the best of 2013 campaign as they finished fifth in the Premier League and lost in the early rounds of the FA Cup and failed to qualify for the Malaysia Cup after losing in the play-off.
Milomir replaces David McCreery who quit just before the end of the Premier League.