After just a month with the Sabah Rhinos, highly experienced football coach Azraai Khor Abdullah bid goodbye to his “boys” today.
Calling them to the Likas Sports Complex locker room, here, the 63-year-old former midfielder broke the news and explained the decision was based on amicable terms.
The news came as a shock to many footballers who were beginning to feel comfortable with his approaches and methods, and many described him as “a good person and was always open to discussion”.
In his Facebook posting today, he wrote “Alhamdulillah…..berakhirnya mimpi ngeri di hari Jumaat yang indah…..” (praise to God, a nightmare ends on a beautiful Friday), and when contacted by The Rakyat Post, Azraai Khor said he made the decision as a professional.
“I introduced some new approaches, but when we cannot get along on some matters, I believe I have to be a professional and leave before something even worse happens,” he said, referring to his differences with the Sabah Football Association (SAFA) management.
Known as one of the best football coaches who had won more trophies than any other coaches in the history of Malaysian football, Azraai Khor said he came in mid September and began working with the Sabah team unofficially.
During the one month stint, Azraai Khor initiated and headed the selection trial which drew over 800 hopeful footballers from throughout the State.
Only 28 were shortlisted.
“I will miss the boys. We had good cooperation and I foresee a few new players with good potential. But some good things must come to an end.
“We (Azraai Khor and SAFA management) have different approaches and cannot work along together. So as a professional, I believe it is better to leave now,” he said.
Disclosing that the decision was mutual, Azraai Khor said he had not signed any contract with the Sabah team.
“For now, I want to go home and be with my family and have a nice rest. I will spend a few more days in Sabah to pack, disconnect my Astro and Streamyx accounts and leave the condo. I came in a good manner and shall leave in the same manner as well,” he said.
The former midfielder, who had over two decades experience in football, led Kedah FA to become a legendary football team in Malaysia when they were crowned as double treble champion — a champion for all three major football competitions, the Super League, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup, in 2007 and 2008.
When asked if he would reconsider coaching Sabah Rhinos if another offer came around, Azraai Khor replied: “No.”
“Because it would mean working with the same people. I am getting old. Football is my passion and I will not let anyone ruin my passion.”
SAFA deputy president Datuk Lawrence Gimbang in a statement today disclosed that through a discussion with Azraai Khor, they had agreed to “part ways before the commencement of the new season”.
“Both SAFA and Azraai Khor have agreed to this on amicable terms and SAFA wishes him the very best for the future,” Gimbang said.