AGE may not be on his side but Mohamad Ali Sapiee, in full flow for
Sarawak in the Malaysia Cup competition, is like vintage wine.
The wily 33-year-old midfielder has been in inspiring form as Sarawak
earned the distinction of becoming the first team to qualify for the
He was on the way to becoming a has-been until Nazri Yunos went to Spain
with the national team for the World Five-a-side finals in Spain.
Since last year, Ali faced stiff competition from youngsters like Nazri
and Ibrahim Mantali. More often than not, he was on the bench.
However, when it seemed Ali was having his last season with Sarawak, he
found himself providing much bite for the Crocs.
It has been quite a turnaround for a player who was out of the team for
two seasons in 1991 and 1992 due to personal and employment reasons.
Nonetheless, the Sarawak FA saw an asset in him. He made his comeback in
1993 to feature prominently in manager-cum-coach Alan Vest's plans.
Partnering another veteran, Jalil Ramli, Ali had a good season under
Vest in 1993 and 1994.
Making his debut for Sarawak in 1984, Ali skippered them from 1986 to
Vest admitted that initially he had some apprenhensions over Ali playing
in Nazri's place. He was not too sure how Ali would cope as he is a little
"But Ali surprised me. It is indeed a pleasant surprise and I found it
hard to believe it is the same Ali whom I had wanted to phase out
"He is like an energetic youngster, and certainly not playing like a 33-
"His passes are accurate, he runs into positions and is an industrious
"He has certainly played a key role in Sarawak's good run in the
Malaysia Cup competition," said Vest.
A modest Ali said: "Maybe the long rest has helped me. I am just glad to
be given the opportunity to play in the first 11 again."
Probably the best compliment for Ali came with the news that Vest has
decided to renew his contract for another season.
The icing to Ali's long and faithful career with Sarawak would be
creating history with the East Malaysian State by reaching the Malaysia
Thursday, November 28, 1996
Wednesday, November 6, 1996
NEWCASTLE manager Kevin Keegan still remembers fondly his time as player-
coach with the Tigers squad in the 1984 Merdeka tournament.
Keegan, who is a guest of the Brunei royal family together with Peter
Beardsley and Darren Peacock, was at Stadium Negara Hassanal Bolkiah in
Bandar Seri Begawan last night where Brunei hosted Johor in a Malaysia Cup
Keegan, who wrote a column for the Malay Mail during his stay here, was
curious about the Tigers, the national back-up squad.
"There were several talented players in the team. Did any of them make
the national team?" he asked.
The Tigers are long extinct.
Keegan said he would be in Brunei for several days and might conduct
coaching clinics for schoolchildren.
"I will probably be back in Brunei with the full Newcastle team for a
few friendly matches.
"Maybe, we will come to Malaysia. I would really like to go back there
again," said Keegan.
On Newcastle's performance in the English Premier League where they are
table leaders, Keegan said it was good start but too early in the season
to mean very much.
"We still have a long way to go in the season. We are doing well but I
will be happier if we are still doing this well towards the end of the
season," said the amiable Keegan.