New Era

Shitembi hopes to never stop dancing with Sabah FC

…enjoying his Malaysian safari

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PETALING JAYA – Coming out from one’s comfort zone can be tough, but that’s not the case for Malaysia’s Sabah FC’s new midfielder Namibian internatio­nal Petrus ‘Dancing Shoes’ Shitembi.

The skilful Namibian, who has played for various African clubs since 2010, said the decision to move out of the continent was something he had always wanted to do.

In the past, there were interests from European clubs, but it did not materializ­e. However, earlier this year, when Sabah offered him a place, the player, nicknamed ‘Dancing Shoes’, did not think twice.

“I’ve always wanted to venture out of my country, and this is a perfect move for me,” said the 27-year-old, who last played for Zambian club Lusaka Dynamos.

“Sabah have shown faith in me. They’ve made everything so easy for me, and I believe we share the same ambitions.”

When asked how he got his nickname, Shitembi laughed and said: “It was given by one of the senior journalist­s in Namibia, and it became popular in South Africa. It’s merely because I can move pretty quick.”

Shitembi has played for his country 65 times and has scored four goals. Some of the clubs that he had played for are South African Premier League clubs AmaZulu, Stellenbos­ch; Ghana’s Ashanti Gold and Namibia’s Tura Magic.

Shitembi thanked his coach Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto and team mates for the smooth transition into a new environmen­t. “They have been absolutely amazing, very welcoming and everyone is just friendly and willing to help,” he said.

“He (Kurniawan) did mention that I’m one of the key midfielder­s in the team. I love the pressure, and I take this responsibi­lity as an honour. I’ll be out to maintain that tag.”

Shitembi looks set to play in the middle with Azzizan Nordin and Sabri Sahar. Besides him, Sabah have also acquired Thai-German winger Dennis Buschening, Puerto Rican internatio­nal striker Hector

Ramos, left-back Zubir Azmi and goalkeeper Wan Azraie Wan Teh.

“We are an ambitious bunch of players, coaches and management, so with that said, I would just like to help the team as much as I can,” added Shitembi.

A storm over Shitembi’s Asia safari

However, Shitembi’s Asian safari has been storm struck by the deadly Coronaviru­s, which has affected countries the world over. After only four matches into the season, the M-League has come to a screeching halt following the movement control order (MCO) by the Malaysian government.

The attacking midfielder agreed that adhering the MCO was vital and advised everyone not to take the precaution­s lightly. “It’s really sad that we find ourselves in these troubling times and it’s affecting us so much but at the moment, we just have to adhere to the specialist­s and superiors on taking precaution and going through the whole selfisolat­ion phase. Hopefully, we can get over this pandemic and things will get back to normal.”

Sabah, the Premier League champions, started their campaign with a goalless draw with Police (1 March), beat Felda United 3-1 (7 March), suffered a 0-2 loss to Pahang (10 March) before being held to a 2-2 by Perak (14 March). They are currently placed fourth in the 12-team standings with five points from four matches. Shitembi has yet to break his duck with Sabah but has been a vital cog in the engine room with Nordin, Alto Linus and Buschening. The Namibian, who is now alone in Kota Kinabalu, said he had a good start with the Rhinos’ and looking forward to improving further when the M-League resumes.

“I’m here by myself, the family is back home so my focus is just on my football. I’m taking it a game at a time and I’ve enjoyed playing here very much. It’s been a really good experience for me. I hope to keep progressin­g with the team and do the best that we possibly can.”

 ??  ?? On a mission… Namibian internatio­nal Petrus ‘Dancing Shoes’ Shitembi (in white) in action for Malaysian club Sabah FC.
On a mission… Namibian internatio­nal Petrus ‘Dancing Shoes’ Shitembi (in white) in action for Malaysian club Sabah FC.

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