S.League champions Tampines Rovers’ pre-season preparations have stepped up a notch after the team arrived in Cambodia on Wednesday to play friendly games against two Cambodia league sides.
The Stags are gearing up for their AFC Champions League (ACL) play-off tie against Hong Kong side South China AA on February 2, before the league kicks off later in the month.
As such, new head coach Salim Moin is hoping the six-day trip will benefit the team and bond the players, especially the new foreign signings.
“With new players around, I hope that the trip will be beneficial for the team to gel as a team and to play the style of football that I want them to play,” the former Woodlands Wellington manager said.
“Apart from one last foreign signing, I have seen all the others (three new foreign players). They are gelling well with the team. We hope that the players will adapt to one another.
“Hopefully the senior players like [Mustafic] Fahrudin and [Aleksandar] Duric can help them settle in with the team. They must understand the demands of being within part of Tampines Rovers Football Club, and they have to meet up with the expectations that the fans have of them.”
Tampines have lost both of their pre-season games so far, losing 7-1 to Johor Darul Takzim and 2-0 to Felda United. But Salim is not bothered by the results, as he knows his team has yet to reach their peak.
“The defeats are part and parcel of pre-season and it is a learning process for us,” he said.
“Different players come in with different styles of play. My job is to play to the strengths of the team. They must change quickly. I take the defeats in a positive way.
“We learn as we go along during the season. When we come back from the training tour, we will have a better idea of what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
The Stags head to Cambodia on the back of an impressive feat after all the players cleared the fitness test on the first attempt, and it was an achievement Salim was more than pleased with.
“I am very proud of their efforts,” he said.
“We did something different in training and they responded well. It is expected that they will do well in their fitness test and they showed it.”
Tampines will face Cambodian side Svay Rieng FC on Friday before squaring off with Nagacorp FC two days later.