Defiant Bacina urges Stags to stay positive

The Tampines Rovers coach believes his side can still qualify for the next round of the AFC Cup, despite defeat to East Bengal leaving them with only one point from three games
By Teng Kiat

Tampines Rovers coach Nenad Bacina was in defiant mood after his team’s 4-2 loss to East Bengal, claiming that they were still in with every chance of qualifying for the next round.

“We still got three games [to play] so mathematically, [we] still got [a] chance,” he asserted.

“Of course it’s not nice to concede four goals, but I don’t think we deserved to lose.

“We were sloppy in certain situations at the back, but [we had] a few chances upfront [that] we didn’t convert.

“They took their chances and we didn’t, so we have to admit they were the better side.”

Bacina pointed to the absence of Seiji Kaneko and captain Mustafic as “one of the reasons” for the goals conceded, and admitted the first goal was “very soft”.

“In the league, we are the side that has conceded the least goals, but in the AFC Cup we keep on conceding many goals,” he lamented.

The Croatian urged his players to remain optimistic as they look forward to their return match in India, as he believes they had tried their best despite defeat.

“I know the players played very hard and they are tired so my job is to stay positive and to spend my optimism on them, because the world is not going to stop go around tomorrow [just] because we lost a game,” Bacina stated.

“We have to stay positive and we have to regroup and try to go upset East Bengal in Kolkata.”

With only one point from their first three games, the odds of the Stags qualifying for the next round look slim, but Bacina refused to put a number to their chances.

“I have to admit that during my schooling days, I was quite bad at mathematics!” he cheekily retorted.

“As I said we still have a chance, and I don’t want to put this kind of pressure [on my team].”