The relieved Harimau Muda coach reveals patience as the key to his team’s success while Rams’ assistant coach, Clement Teo, found positives in defeat.
“Overall, I believe that our patience paid off," shared the coach after the game.
"We know that as long as we continue to create chances, we will win.
"Actually, we don’t even have to create chances. We got the penalties [to rely on and score]”,
In truth, the game hardly started well for the Malaysians.
Missing their usual crisp passing and with their backline constantly troubled by the Rams’ effective 'ball-behind-the-defence' strategy, the team looked as if they were still recovering from the after-effects of their first league defeat to Home United FC the previous week.
Ong Kim Swee agreed with this sentiment and echoed: “We did not start very well and for the first ten to fifteen minutes, our backline was a bit shaky and I have to give credit to the Woodlands backline for keeping it very tight in the beginning.”
His cause was certainly not helped by Wan Zack Haikal’s uncharacteristic miss from twelve yards. However, his coach only had words of encouragement for his Japan-bound star.
“I am very happy with Zack’s performance," he said.
"He missed the penalty and came into the dressing room at half-time feeling disappointed with himself. But I told him that it is part and parcel of football and to continue being patient, and in the second-half, he was patient and created chances for his team-mates."
Ong Kim Swee was not alone in being encouraged by the performance of his players. Rams’ assistant coach, Clement Teo, also paid tribute to the fighting spirit of his players.
“We showed tonight that if we work hard, we can get a result against any team in the league," said Teo.
"We nearly did it [get a result] tonight and fought all the way till the end even though we were a man down.”
When questioned on the performance of custodian Ahmadulhaq Che Omar, who kept the Rams in the game with a string of fine saves, he added: “Fantastic. He did really well to save the penalty and his performance throughout the game tonight was really fantastic.”
He also took time to question the performance of referee K Kalimuthu who gave away four penalty kicks throughout the game.
He assessed: “I cannot remember a match where the referee gave away four penalty kicks.”
However, when he was asked on which particular decisions he did not agree with, he simply replied: “I do not want to comment on that”.
Considering how criticism of referees are not kindly appreciated these days, no matter how justified it may be, a reticent approach is perhaps Clement Teo’s best decision lest his team gets penalised, again.