BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Following a protracted appeal process, university club UKM FC were finally allowed to continue participating in the Malaysia Premier League by competitions organiser Malaysian Football League (MFL).
They initially had their second-tier status stripped by MFL for failing to submit their 2019 season participation confirmation on time, a situation that was purportedly brought about by the changes in the university's administration, which had been caused by the change of federal government experienced by Malaysia in May 2018. However, the organisation later relented, and the club was reinstated.
Varsity Boys head coach Sulaiman Hussin is grateful for MFL's understanding, but the hard work is only beginning for the side that finished the 2018 season in seventh place and as Challenge Cup runners up.
"First of all, I'm thankful to MFL for giving us the chance to continue competing. But the delay meant that we have less than a month to conduct player trials, fitness work and everything else.
"However, that's no excuse, we have to get everything done and I hope that my boys will give their full cooperation," he remarked when met by Goal on Tuesday.
According to him, they will have to make do with a reduced budget for the 2019 season, but he is determined to field a competitive team.
"Despite the shrinking budget and wage cuts, our board is very supportive while the players are committed to competing. Maybe we'll find sponsors who are willing to support us financially.
"We'll try to stay competitive. We've signed undergraduates who transferred from other universities.
"But I've told these undergraduate-players, 'You must show that you deserve to be playing, and not depend on the status as students.' They have to fight for a place, to show that they can play at a high level. This is what UKM FC are all about," remarked the former Kuala Lumpur (KL) player.
He also revealed that he has stepped down from the post of KL's technical director he was appointed to, while UKM's future was still in limbo. UKM are an affiliate club of the City Boys'.
"I had accepted the post earlier when it was offered to me by the KL president, but with the stipulation that I would be allowed to return to UKM if the appeal was accepted by MFL.
"I can still help KL with development, but not in an official capacity. After all, I was born in the Federal Territory and used to play for KL. I have no problem helping them, even without a formal position. But my main focus is with UKM," said Sulaiman.
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