Nenad Bacina gracious in defeat but mysteriously chooses to remain hush over omission of top-scorer Jordan Webb from the starting lineupAnyone in the stadium without yellow-tinted lenses on would have applauded the second-half showing from Hougang United. For Nenad Bacina, the change in attitude after the interval was sufficient to ensure that he return home tonight a satisfied man.
“Congratulations to Harimau because they played well but I thought that we played well also and totally dominated the second half. We should have gotten more out of the game,” came the smile and the verdict from the former Warriors legend.
However, his smiley demeanour quickly dissipated when he was quizzed on the omission of Jordan Webb from the starting line-up. He replied, “There are reasons as to why he was on the bench but the matter is internal to the club and I will not tell you guys what the reasons are.”
When he was probed further, he somewhat relented and vaguely added, “Jordan is still a young player, and all young players make mistakes. And the most important thing is that these players learn from their mistakes and improve.”
Whether Nenad Bacina was referring to the two golden opportunities wasted by the Canadian frontman or to his general mentality is definitely up to personal interpretation.
But one thing is for sure, it would be interesting to monitor over the next few weeks whether Jordan Webb regains his place in the starting line-up, considering his languid display tonight.
For opposing coach Ong Kim Swee, the victory came as a relief as his team was without four key players who had been called up to represent the senior Malaysian national team in their International friendly against Sri Lanka. He commented, “We cannot do anything when our players are called up to the senior team other than making sure that the other players step up their game. And I am glad that tonight all of them did.”
While he praised the performance of debutants such as Izuan Salahuddin, he reserved special praise for his captain.
“For our third goal, Affize ran the whole pitch to support his team-mates and managed to score. I think that shows you how examplary he is as a captain and how good our team spirit is.”
However for him, the most important thing was that the win signified a much needed return to winning ways after the morale-sapping defeat against Balestier Khalsa and hold them in good stead for the big match against Tampines. When asked if the performance of his debutants will pose him a selection headache, Ong Kim Swee answered, “They have done well and they will give us more depth, but for now, I hope that all four of our players will be back [from International duty] in time for the match against Tampines.”