The former Singapore international was surprised at Salim Moin’s resignation but is looking forward to get his side back to winning ways under his charge
First it was Steven Tan, then it was Nenad Bacina. Now, Salim Moin has suffered the same fate.
After barely four months into his tenure as head coach of Tampines Rovers, Salim has called it quits as the club announced his resignation on Sunday.
The reigning S.League champions have gone through a rough patch of form of late, with only one win in their last six games in all competitions. The Stags lie third in the league table after nine games and crashed out of the AFC Cup last week after a home loss to Myanmar side Nay Pyi Taw FC.
The club also revealed that assistant coach Rafi Ali is set to take over on a temporary basis as interim coach until a new appointment is made.
When contacted by Goal, the 41-year-old admitted he was surprised at Salim’s dismissal, but is looking forward to the chance to get the team back on track.
“I’m relishing the opportunity that is given,” he told Goal.
“My boss trusts me to take over the team so I’m just going to give my best to make sure we get the three points on Thursday [against Albirex Niigata].
“It came as a shock when Salim resigned. But we have to think of the team and move forward and work to get the team together for Thursday.”
Rafi is unperturbed about the Stags’ recent dismal form, insisting his players have what it takes to get their title charge going again.
“I know the players and I know what they are capable of and I think they know their capabilities as well,” he asserted.
“My objective now is just to tell them, 'okay we went through a bad patch, let’s put that behind, turn the corner as fast as possible and start with a win against Albirex’.
“It’s important for us to get this win. After we get this win, things will fall into place. The players are mentally and physically tired after the AFC Cup exertions. I just want to motivate them as much as I can to make them believe that they can do it.
“They know who they are, they know what they are capable of, they just have to put it on the field.”
Strangely enough, this is the third consecutive year that the Stags have had their head coach leave midway through the season. Tan and Bacina were the casualties in previous seasons.
Still, Rafi is adamant that it won’t affect the players.
“It has been happening for the past couple of seasons,” he admitted.
“But before that transition we still managed to be champions; that speaks volumes of the players’ character and ability. I want that character to be there again.
‘I’m just going to take it one game at a time. We work from there.”