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The new Tampines Rovers coach was a happy man after clinching the Charity Shield, while counterpart V. Selvaraj lamented his team’s mistakes that cost his side the game

By Kenneth Tan

Two goals in four minutes coupled with some solid defensive work culminated in a very successful first game in charge of Tampines Rovers for Nenad Bacina as his side retained the Great Eastern Charity Shield for the third successive year.

Addressing the media at the post-match press conference, the new Stags coach did not hide his pleasure with the outcome.

“It’s definitely a good feeling to clinch this trophy, can I call this a trophy?” he joked.

“It’s a tale of two halves in this match, you do not need to be a football expert to see that. We totally dominated the first half, but we didn’t maintain that in the second, which is something I can’t say I’m satisfied about.”

While admitting that his marquee signing Martin Wagner ‘needed more time to gel’ with the team, he was keen to state the importance of winning without firing on all cylinders.

“I’m happy we managed to hold on till the end,” Bacina said.

“It’s important that we get a result even when we’re not playing well. We worked very hard for this as Warriors FC is not an easy club to play against.”

If the Stags fans had been observant during last night’s game, they would probably had noticed that Bacina had ditched their traditional 3-5-2 formation for a 4-4-1-1 lineup, and the former Hougang United coach is confident that his side can adapt to his new system.

“We used to play three at the back, but I think we can do well with this formation this season,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, his Warriors counterpart V. Selvaraj was left to rue what could have been.

“Too easy!” he said wryly, when asked about the two goals his side conceded.

“We simply lost concentration at the back and those were two easy goals for Tampines.”

However, he was happy with how his side came back into the affair thereafter.

“It was a better second half,” he analysed.

“Our players had more belief and really gave their all. Although we did not create much clear-cut opportunities, we played with a higher tempo, moved the ball better and penetrated more.”

Much-lauded marquee signing Kazuyuki Toda had a slightly muted debut as he produced little for the Warriors fans to shout about, and Selveraj readily admitted the 36-year-old ‘could have played better’, although he was by no means disappointed with his performance.

“You can see he’s trying to do his best on the pitch,” he explained.

“He’s a winner and doesn’t like to be second. I think he did much better in our games during the Bangkok tour than today and this game gave him a feel of how the tempo of a S.League game is all about.”

The non-appearance of classy hitman Mislav Karoglan was perhaps a slight tinge of concern but the former national player was keen to allay the fears of the Warriors faithful, indicating that he should be back for his side’s opening S.League game against Woodlands Wellington.

“Mislav had a slight strain on his back, that’s why he’s not in the squad today," he explained.

"It shouldn’t be a big problem and it was good to see Sufian (Sufian Anuar) and Erwan (Erwan Gunawan) raising their games in his absence."