Tampines chairman vows fightback in 2016
After seeing his team finish second to Brunei DPMM in a thrilling Great Eastern Yeo's S.League finale, new Tampines Rovers chairman Murali Krishna Ramachandra pledged to reinvigorate the Stags next season.
The 44-year-old corporate finance lawyer, who succeeded Teo Hock Seng as Tampines chairman, demonstrated how serious he was about restoring the club to the top of the pile as soon as possible.
Speaking minutes after the team's 1-1 with Harimau Muda last night at Jurong West Stadium, Krishna said: "I'm happy with the commitment shown by the players and staff over the last third of the season, but not the results.
"We should have stitched up the league title some time ago with the quality of the squad we have. Not being able to do so is disappointing for the fans and players.
"We will rebuild from the existing squad and work on eradicating the mistakes we made this season, such as not being able to kill off matches, not being fit enough, not investing in youth and having a squad that are too old.
"Youth is absolutely critical and top of our agenda for next season is to promote the national youth-development agenda."
The word on the grapevine is that while S.League clubs currently have five foreign players on their books, there will be a reduction in the number of imports next season.
Krishna feels that this will be in line with the direction he wants his club to take next year.
"I have heard about the possible reduction of the import quota and this lends itself well to our philosophy of developing youth," he said.
"I want our club to be a hot-house for national players, and I want our club to be a springboard for experience and confidence.
"It will be done in piecemeal fashion, there will not be wholesale changes. We want to recognise valuable senior players who can guide the younger ones."
However, this does not mean that the Stags will not be have a sixth S.League title in their sights.
Krishna added: "Tampines Rovers are synonymous with a champion's mentality and approach, and we will not expect anything less next season."
Meanwhile, Harimau Muda coach Razip Ismail told The New Paper that after four seasons, the Young Tigers are unlikely to play in the S.League next year.
The 53-year-old said: "At this point, it looks unlikely that we will be back next season.
"From what I've heard, the Football Association of Malaysia will discontinue the Harimau Muda project as they prepare for the SEA Games in 2017."
S.League CEO Lim Chin did not confirm Harimau Muda's dropout but said that if the Malaysia juniors are disbanded, the S.League will most likely proceed with nine teams for its 21st season.
HEATED: Kenny Pallraj (above) is sent off after shoving Zulfadli Zainal Abidin. TNP PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG
DPMM are a good side and it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, results didn’t go our way. But still, we have qualified for the AFC Cup, and that’s something we can look forward to next season.
— Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy
Three red cards were dished out at Jurong West Stadium last night. Tampines had Isa Halim and Noh Alam Shah sent off, while Harimau Muda’s Kenny Pallraj was also given his marching orders.