The Tanjong Pagar United coach instilled in his side the belief that they could beat Brunei DPMM on home soil prior to the game, as counterpart Vjeran Simunic looked shell-shockedHis league-leading sixth goal of the season helped Tanjong Pagar United to a shock 1-0 win at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Sunday night, but star striker Monsef Zerka refused to get carried away after the game.
"We won, and our focus tomorrow is now on the other games," the Jaguars’ marquee signing remarked.
"We are doing our best to bring more fans to the stadium, and I think the people will now know the name ‘Tanjong Pagar’."
Remarkably, the win was Tanjong Pagar's fourth of the season, just one shy of their total for the entirety of 2012. The club’s dramatic change in fortunes can be attributed largely to the arrival of French tactician Patrick Vallee, who felt that in spite of a few hiccups, his battle plan for last night's game proved to be successful.
"The plan was to be quiet when we started the game," the 51-year-old revealed.
"We know that [Brunei] DPMM like to put pressure in the opening 30 minutes, and we thought maybe if we can do something, we will.
"I wanted my team to be compact and not give DPMM any space, and I think they did that very well."
It was a busy night for referee Leow Thiam Hoe, who booked five Tanjong Pagar players, excluding the sending off of Asraf Rashid. However, Vallee insisted that they are not a dirty team by nature.
"My team are not bandits [and] we are not aggressive, but I do not want to talk about cards tonight,” he said.
"We had a heroic goalkeeper, a fantastic striker and nine formidable players in between them.
"I told my team that they could be the first team to win in Brunei. I wrote 'we are here to do it' on the board in the dressing room before the game, and after [the match], my players wrote 'we did it!’.”
Meanwhile, opposite number Vjeran Simunic was left without an answer after watching his side dominate proceedings but slump to defeat at home, with not a single mention of fatigue after his charges played their third game in the span of a week.
"They are a good team, but didn't deserve to win," Simunic managed to muster after a momentary pause to collect his thoughts.
"If you look back at the game, DPMM had six or seven chances and apart from the goal, Tanjong Pagar had none.
The Croatian explained that his decision to bring off Najib Tarif early on in the first half was purely tactical, adding that Tales dos Santos brought a different dimension to the game.
"They have three very experienced strikers, so with [Dos] Santos, we brought more aggression to the game," the 57-year-old said.
"Santos stopped Zerka, [Kamel] Ramdani and [Ismael] Benahmed and in the second half, with Santos up front, we were more attacking.
"Tanjong Pagar looked good in the opening 10 minutes, and I think we stumbled after we conceded the opening goal."