The Croatian was disappointed with the pitch and believed that the problem for his side was their conversion, while Bulls coach K Balagumaran was in mixed emotions after the match
“This is more like a beach," said a disappointed Hougang United coach Nenad Bacina after watching his team lost 2-1 to Gombak United at the Jurong West Stadium.
"I am not trying to excuse my players but I am just telling the fact because as a team who is trying to play more [passing], it’s difficult to control the ball.”
Jung Hee Bong and Hafiz Rahim were the heroes for the home side as they grabbed a goal each, while Mamadou Diallo got one back for the Cheetahs but it proved to be a mere consolation and to add on to their misery, Hougang finished with 10-men as defender Syaqir Sulaiman was sent-off after collecting two yellow cards.
Speaking to the media after the match, Bacina said: “Maybe someone would disagree with me but I think that the pitch is in a very bad condition and of course it’s poor for both sides.
“We are the team who were trying to play a passing game so this kind of field didn’t give us the opportunity to play our game.”
But the Croatian was a gentleman and added: “I have to congratulate the winning team first. I said in the pre-match interview that I was expecting this would be a hard game for us."
“We conceded easy and sloppy balls, both goals were sloppy. I guess maybe we were a bit on the back-foot tonight, as we could not use [Stanislav] Vidakovic who is the tallest guy in the team, that’s why Gombak United managed to win every high ball in the box.
“But at the same time, we tried to fight back and scored the equaliser before half-time. Most of the second-half, we controlled the game and the pace but we couldn’t covert.
“Our domination went wasted and later we conceded the second goal. It did put us down but we managed to come back again but we got a second yellow card [for defender Syaqir Sulaiman who got sent off].
“We then tried our best to press them and create some chances but we couldn’t convert and the team who scored two goals won. “
He also believed that the second yellow card given to Syaqir was a bit too harsh.
“From my position, it’s quite difficult to see but it was a bit easy and I don’t think that Syaqir deserve the second yellow card. I think there were many tackles in the game, which deserved a yellow card, but referee didn’t give, “ said Bacina.
“Tonight is a not so good night for us so we will look forward to the next match.”
For Gombak coach K Balagumaran, he was happy with the three points but not so about how the team played.
Bala told the media after the match that he believed the team wasn’t playing up to their standards tonight and that his team won with a little bit of luck.
“Actually, I’m not impressed with how we played," said the freshman Bulls coach.
"I mean the way we used to play was good football but we didn’t get the results.
“Today the flow of the football wasn’t the same as previous games and even though we lost 3-0 to Brunei DPMM we played good football.
"Today we had a bit of luck.”
He too added that the pitch was one problem for his team tonight.
Speaking on Hougang’s performance, the coach believed that they weren’t up to their usual standards either and added: “I think they depend too much on Jordan Webb and the other players are not responding too well.”
When asked if he gave his players special instructions to mark Webb who scored five goals this season, the coach replied: “ I didn’t. I realize whenever I say look at this certain player; the total focus of the team will go to this player."
“So now I used zonal defence and told the players that, you don’t care who is the player, if that guy comes into your zone, that’s your man.”
The match was marred by the injury of Gombak midfielder Mustaqim Manzur who was sent to the hospital due to a neck injury and Bala said that he didn’t know how bad the injury was but as he had hurt his neck they sent him to the hospital.
Hougang coach Bacina also wished the midfielder all the best: “I feel pity for him and hopefully he will recover fast. I wish him all the best.”