WHAT Abbas Saad has achieved at Sydney Olympic FC across the first 12 rounds in the NPL NSW men’s one competition is nothing short of remarkable.
The former Socceroo was given the brutal task of replacing Gorka Etxeberria as head coach just days before the boys from Belmore faced Bonnyrigg White Eagles in their season opener on March 11.
Olympic defied the odds to win 2-1, and Abbas was off and running.
“It was certainly a challenging situation initially, but one I enjoyed,” Saad told Football NSW.
“I knew a few of the boys when I first came in – I played with our elder statesman Paul Henderson at Northern Spirit and I coached Will Angel and Nik Tsattalios when they were kids.
“Apart from that it was a clean slate, that was part of the appeal.”
Fast forward to late May, and Sydney Olympic FC is the team everyone is chasing.
Saad admitted his team has overachieved as the season just passes its halfway point.
“Absolutely, I more or less use the same starting XI each week,” he said.
“Up until recently we have been OK when it came to injuries, but now we have quite a few boys done for the year.
“We managed to pick up Zac Mackenzie (from APIA Leichhardt) in the transfer window, he is versatile and athletic.
“On Sunday we actually play APIA, so he won’t have to wait long to play his former teammates.”
The two squads also met midweek, with the Tigers winning 3-0 in the FFA Cup.
The 50-year-old, who is a cult hero in Asia after his decorated playing career in Malaysia before excelling as a pundit, didn’t rule out one day coaching in the Hyundai A-League or abroad.
“I love coaching and I’m always looking to better myself, so I would put my hand up,” he said.
“At the moment I’m very happy at Olympic, I’m employed fulltime which is great, I’m looking to set up a club academy and work closely with our juniors.
“I’m also delighted at how our (men’s) first grade is going – they work hard and just need to adapt better to certain situations.
“Once they do so, expect to see the likes of Max Burgess playing in the A-League or even a higher level.”