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The Tampines coach was a relieved man following a hard-fought win while Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar was understandably disappointed but remained proud of his team’s performance

By En Lim

Speaking at the post-match interview after his Young Lions were defeated 2-0 by reigning champions Tampines Rovers, Aide Iskandar looked visibly disappointed but was nevertheless proud of his youngsters’ overall performance.

“Definitely I feel for the boys, they put up a good performance,” he said. “[It was] not the best, but in terms of work rate and commitment, they gave their best.”

Forwards Ignatius Ang and Sherif El-Masri paired up in attack for the first time this season, and Aide revealed that it was a tactical move to exploit the flanks.

“The two [Tampines] centrebacks and two central midfielders are strong defensively and they are a good block [in the middle of the pitch] so that’s the reason why I put fast players on [the wings],” he explained.

Aide also expressed hope that injured players like Fazli Ayob would return to the fray soon to give them “more attacking options upfront”.

Despite the loss, the former Singapore captain remained upbeat and expressed belief that his team would do better in the months ahead.

“They will be stronger from defeats like this,” Aide declared.

“I believe in this team. Hopefully with more games under their belt, they will definitely be a better team.”

Meanwhile, Tampines coach Nenad Bacina was a relieved man after hearing the final whistle.

“I have to congratulate my players because they were very patient and they kept on trying [and] we deserved to score two goals [in the end],” he said.

Bacina also praised the performance of marquee signing Martin Wagner, who completed his first 90 minutes for the club and saw a goal disallowed in the first half.

“He did very well,” he said with a smile. “We changed our formation to put him just behind the strikers [and] he combined well with the others. I was very pleased!”

The Croatian acknowledged the efforts of his opponents and warned that teams should “never underestimate the Young Lions”.

“They defended very well [and] they came with a game plan to play a counter-attacking game and there were two or three situations [where the Young Lions troubled us] at the back,” Bacina pointed out.

The Courts Young Lions next host Brunei DPMM on March 7, while Tampines will take a break from the S.League to face ASEAN opposition in the AFC Cup.