Sarawak started their season relatively well; collecting 5 points out of 9 points in their first 3 games. The six-goal thriller against Felda, an impressive 3-1 win over highly rated Terengganu and a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Pahang enlightened fans with what appeared to be a dream start.
But since then, the team has only managed to collect four points, and are merely four points above the relegation zone as of now. The recent draw against ATM was perhaps the most embarrassing result, as they could not secure full points at home, against the 2nd lowest team in the league. And believe it or not, the situation seems like it would only get worse over the next few months. Here’s why:
1. ROBERT ALBERTS’ BORING TACTICS
The discontent towards Robert Alberts is gathering momentum, especially after last Saturday’s dull draw against ATM at Stadium Negeri. After just one win in their last six league games and only one clean sheet in their last 8 games, it is becoming common to hear fans complain that the Dutchman is drowning the team with his tactics. Perhaps, it is not a surprise that some fans are calling for his sack, and a lot of them are unhappy with Alberts’ habit of consistently blaming external issues, instead of himself. The Dutchman previously fumed over his team’s three straight away games, and claimed that it took a toll on their ability to do well.
But somehow, he managed to prove his point, as Sarawak clinched a win against rock-bottom Sime Darby in their next game. Though even that joy, did not last long as ATM stole a point last time out, leaving the fans shocked. Robert’s boring tactics have been blamed for their struggles this season, but the experienced head coach seems to disagree and still believes in his approach to the game. That being said, if their performances on the pitch continue the same way, fans could be in for a tough time this season.
2. ISSUES WITH SQUAD DEPTH
To be frank, Sarawak’s failure to replace key players that departed during the transfer window, is already beginning to take its toll. Junior Eldstal and S. Chanturu were absolutely pivotal for them last season but both men have departed for Johor DT. Fans were skeptical at the beginning of the season as they wondered how the team would perform in the absence of both individuals, though it must be said that Joseph Kalang and Ashri Chuchu have stepped up to lift the team. New signing Billy Mehmet has also showed plenty of promise so far.
Fans though, were right to worry because as the season progresses, their existing stars are now ‘missing in action’. Ryan Griffiths only has one goal to his name this season. The head coach needs to address this issues as soon as possible and help these individuals rediscover their touch and form. Judging by Sarawak’s struggles, it’s about time these men step up in Super League matches because as of now, they are certainly letting the fans down.
3. UPCOMING FIXTURES
The next three fixtures for Sarawak will be LionsXII away from home, Kelantan at home as well as Perak at home. All the games will undoubtedly be tricky, as both LionsXII and Kelantan are merely two points behind Sarawak. The Lions are yet to lose at home this season, and while Kelantan are struggling in the league, they seem to have rediscovered some fire with the arrival of new foreign signings. Sarawak will be hoping to see fatigue play a part, as those two teams are still involved in the FA Cup but they will also be aware of the fact that anything can happen in football. Perak has been absolutely impressive this season, despite possessing a squad that’s largely made up of inexperienced youth players and dealing with them will not be an easy task.
Robert Alberts and co know that their fate is entirely on their own hands for now. If they turn things around and attain points, it could spark a mini renaissance. But if they continue slipping up in games, Sarawak could very well find themselves within the relegation zone in the second half of the league campaign.