Tanjong Pagar assistant coach Darimosuvito Tokijan was pleased that his side’s cautiousness reaped dividends after watching his side battle to a 1-1 draw against Home United on Thursday night, with Ismael Benahmed popping in the equaliser six minutes from time.
“The first game when we played Home United, we were not cautious and we played openly, and we lost 3-0,” he recalled.
“We know the strengths of the Home United players: they are experienced and very fast, that’s why we were playing a bit defensively… to absorb [the pressure] and then work on the counter-attack.”
Tokijan admitted the Jaguars had a “slow” first half, which lead to the hosts having chances to score, but was pleased with their response after the break.
“In the second half we managed to close [them] down early,” he pointed out.
“A lapse of concentration [from us and] they managed to put in one, but you can see we came back [because] we wanted at least a point from this game… We are happy with the point.”
The former Singapore midfielder also acknowledged the impact of substitute Asraf Rashid, who put in the cross for the leveler.
“I think we needed more flankers so we put in Asraf on the left and two or three chances came [from there],” Tokijan said.
“Hafiz [Nor] was doing that on the right [with Ahmad] Latiff overlapping [but] on the left we were lacking [that]. We were one down, and we needed to attack.”
His Home counterpart Lee Lim Saeng was pleased with his team’s dominance, but lamented their failure to take their chances.
“We made so many chances in the first half,” he pointed out after thanking his players for their efforts.
“We always dominate the possession [and] if possible we press with the ball to raise the tempo.
“We didn’t concentrate [in the closing stages and] unfortunately we conceded.”
The ex-Korean international also revealed that right-back Ismail Yunos was taken to the hospital after suffering a knock to the neck with less than half a minute gone, while Juma’at Jantan was taken off at half-time due to hamstring problems that has persisted since his time at former club LionsXII.
Both coaches also touched on the performances of their new signings, whom they believe will get better with time.
“Choi plays in the second division and Kwon in the third; they are young and I'm still helping them to improve in the S.League,” Lee said about new additions Choi Jaewon and Kwon Dakyung.
“I think Kwon was not bad today, it was his first game [and] I think he can show a better [performance] in the next game.”
Tokijan similarly praised midfielder John Wilkinson, who made his debut in their League Cup defeat against Brunei DPMM in their previous game.
“This is his second game [and] he has yet to adapt but he is working hard on it, and he is working with Sazali [Salleh] in the middle [of the pitch],” he pointe out.
“He is an experienced player; he is an asset to the team [and] some sort of motivation to the team. The only thing is [for him] to blend in with the foreigners and the locals quickly.
“I think he didn’t play for quite some time, a few months; this is his second game, he’s there but he needs another two, three games to get the kick of it.”