It was a hard fought win for current S.League champions Tampines Rovers, when they needed two goals in the second-half to come back and tame Courts Young Lions 2-1 at the Clementi stadium.
The home team fell behind just a minute before half-time when a miscommunication at the back, allowed Anaz Hadee’s header to slip into his own net. But the Stags went all out in the second-half and grabbed two goals in the space of a minute thanks to Jamil Ali and also Johnathan Toto’s own-goal.
Speaking to the press after the match, Tampines Rovers coach Steven Tan started by joking: “From what we couldn’t score, we scored three goals today and ended up helping them to score also.”
“Sometimes football is funny, just a moment of miscommunication and you are down 1-0.
“But the boys showed their character tonight and fought back hard today to get the two goals.”
When asked if he thinks that his team were made to work extra hard, Tan replied: “Look at the first-half, we were practically camping in their half and their tactic is to stay compact and hit us on the counter-attacks.
“We know that they are going to play like that and we just need to be patient in our play and not rush into passing the final ball.”
After that, the 42-year-old heaped praises on midfielder Sazali Salleh, who was in scintillating form as he bossed and dominated the centre of the park.
“I thought Sazali did well today in the midfield, winning all the balls, but the whole team did well too," he told Goal.com
“We just have to cut down on the mistakes and loose ball.”
But one thing Tan wasn’t happy about was the hectic schedule Tampines has.
“We will be in Vietnam on Wednesday and I would see if I can rest some players because we will be playing Harimau [Muda] on Sunday then play again on Wednesday in the Singapore Cup," he lamented.
“I really don’t understand such arrangements and it sure doesn’t help us. In a short span of three months, we have played around twenty games and it’s taking a toll on the players.
“Lucky I have all 18 players back now, so hopefully, I will be able to cope.
“We will take this step by step and one game at a time. For us, consistency is the key now, if not we would just be wasting the hard work we put in.”
For his counterpart, Young Lions coach, Robin Chitrakar, he believed that his team should have at least walked away with a point.
The visitors were led down by two defensive errors to spoil their hard work.
“It’s a tough game for us," said Chitrakar.
"We knew that an experienced side like Tampines would definitely come at us. The boys managed to stay firm and I believed we were unfortunate.
“The boys really did their best and you can see that in the last fifteen minutes of the game, they really went all out, trying to get the equaliser.
“I think we did well enough to get at least a point. But then again, Tampines took their chance and credit should be given to them.”
With his team playing two matches in three days, their next opponent being Albirex Niigata on Sunday, Robin simply replied: “We will see again tomorrow on what we have before deciding the tactics and players we use.”