Despite the fixture congestion, Tay was adamant that his side are still in pole position in the S.League title race, while Gombak coach Balagumaran was happy with the draw.
For the second consecutive match, Tampines Rovers Tay Peng Kee made known his frustration at the scheduling of his side's league fixtures, citing fatigue was the cause of his team's dismal performance in their 1-1 draw against Gombak United.
“Thanks to FAS, we are playing three games in one week and you can see the players [are] feeling so lethargic. It is definitely the fatigue factor; as you can see, all the players are just too tired to play,” bemoaned Tay.
Explaining the reasons for his substitutions and tactical tweaks throughout the game, he explained: “We were going for the win in the first half, but after that we realized that most of the boys can’t go on anymore and that is why we had to make several changes.”
Apart from fatigue, injuries have also taken their toll on the Stags, with key man Fahrudin Mustafic set to miss their next game.
“Hopefully he [Mustafic] will be back by Wednesday. He is recovering from his groin injury, but we will not risk him. To me, whoever is in the reserves, they must be ready to come in and play and I think that they are all ready for it,” said Tay.
He continued: “We have a very shallow squad. If you look at our team carefully, we only have three capable reserve players and the rest are all Prime League players.”
However, the Tampines coach was still positive about his side's title chances, ahead of their next game against second-placed Albirex Niigata.
“That is what we try to do [to win against Albirex] but if [even] it does not happen, we are still in pole position to win the title,” Tay pointed out.
Meanwhile, Gombak coach Balagumaran was also left wondering as to whether it was the title-chasing Tampines that turned up at the Jurong West stadium.
“Tampines did not really come at us today. [In the] first half, we were dominating in possession. Maybe they were cautious, and did not want to lose the point. But we are pleased to hold them to a draw,” a slightly surprised Bala said.
The previous meeting between the two teams saw Tampines come from behind to snatch a win at the Clementi Stadium, and Bala was keen to ensure there would not be a repeat of that .
“I was quite cautious not to take the risk and push the players forward [too much] because we have learned our lesson. In the previous meeting, we were leading by two goals and they came back into the game,” he explained.
The fact that midfielder Adrian Dhanaraj had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph tissue, a few days earlier also served as added motivation for the Gombak players to get a result.
“In fact, the boys had wanted all three points and [to] play for Adrian Dhanaraj. Hafiz [Rahim] is close to Adrian, and he is very happy to have scored the goal,” the former youth coach said.