Southeast Asia Malaysia

“Kurus” Joins Sabah FA

Steven Danis

Football Tribe Indonesia


In the buildup of the upcoming 2020 Liga Super Malaysia season, newly promoted Sabah FA has unveiled their new head coach. Indonesian legend, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, was entrusted with the task of keeping the Tembadau competitive in the Malaysian top flight next season. Kurniawan, also better known to the Indonesian public as Kurus, had previously worked as assistant manager for both the Indonesia senior national team and the U-23 national team in 2018-19.

Prior to joining Sabah, Kurniawan had helped out Indra Sjafri during Indonesia’s silver medal run in the 2019 SEA Games as the latter’s assistant. The Sabah job will be Kurniawan’s first ever job as head coach, certainly a bigger responsibility than his previous positions. However the ex-FC Luzern and Sampdoria Primavera striker will be relieved that his good relations with Malaysia would make the task of adapting into a foreign country much more easier.

Kurniawan had played in Malaysia before, representing Sabah’s local rivals Sarawak FA in 2005-06, playing 31 games and scoring 29 times for Bujang Senang. Kurniawan’s wife, Nur Ratqana Dewi, is a Malaysian, and he often stays in the country instead of Indonesia. However despite living overseas, Kurniawan is still fondly remembered by the Indonesian public with his 33 goals from 59 appearances for Timnas Garuda.

The jury is still out on whether Kurniawan and Sabah would be a best match for one another, but expect an attacking style of football based on Sjafri’s tactics, judging by Kurniawan’s playing career as a striker as well as his tenure as Sjafri’s assistant. Kurniawan will also receive assistance from Sofie Imam, the former physical coach of the Indonesian U-16 teams. It is hoped that Sofie will help Kurniawan with his vision of developing young players in Sabah for the long term.

Before Kurniawan, another Indonesian head coach had made a career out of himself in the Malaysian league. During the 2015 Liga Premier Malaysia season, Rahmad Darmawan took charge of PBDKT T-Team FC of Terengganu and brought them back to the Liga Super at the end of the season, however he resigned after T-Team were absorbed into the Terengganu FC setup and converted into Terengganu’s reserve team, Terengganu FC II at the end of the 2017 Liga Super season. One of the most highly regarded head coaches of Indonesia, Rahmad’s last job was at TIRA-Persikabo, where he led the Laskar Padjadjaran to a 13-match unbeaten run in the 2019 Liga 1 season, only to receive the sack after his TIRA-KABO side crashed to a 14-match winless run in the second half of the season.