New Stags coach Akbar wants to silence critics
Stags' new coach vows he will be 'more adventurous, more attacking'
TAMPINES ROVERS v BRUNEI DPMM
(Tomorrow, 8pm, Jurong West Stadium)
Akbar Nawas will take charge of five-time Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions Tampines Rovers for the first time tomorrow when they host reigning champions DPMM at the Jurong West Stadium, and he will send the Stags out to play more adventurous, more attacking football.
At the same time, Akbar insists Tampines will retain the structure that was left behind by V Sundramoorthy, who steered the club into the quarter-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup, before answering the call of the national team.
"Every coach has his own ways, and for me - we know we are seven points behind (in the league) - I don't want us to think about the table or the titles, just to take each game at time," said Akbar.
BIG ROLE: Attacking players like Jermaine Pennant (above) will be called upon to get the goals as Tampines need a win to keep pace with league leaders Albirex. PHOTO: ST FILE
Tampines are second in the nine-team league standings, seven points behind leaders Albirex Niigata.
Their last league win came more than a month ago in April, a 4-2 victory over Warriors FC, and they have endured one loss, sandwiched between two draws in three fixtures in May.
Some have criticised Sundram for not fully utilising the attacking talent in the Tampines arsenal.
Akbar wants to silence the critics.
"In terms of style I'd like to be a bit more adventurous, a bit more attacking, but it won't be so drastic a change.
"Sundram has put together a good unit and I will make changes slowly," he said.
"I will definitely bring my own style, go my own way, but I'm still in constant communication with Sundram.
"I give credit to him, he understands that every coach has his own style.
"I'll never be Sundram, and Sundram isn't me; and you can't say that its right or that it's wrong, that's just how football is."
Whatever strategy they adopt, Tampines will have to win to stay within touching distance of the Japanese pace-setters.
The new coach will not change the way his charges play to counter DPMM's football, and will instead look to assert his - and Tampines' - own style in the game.
"Especially after losing 5-0 to Home United, I don't think they'll open up so much against us. But we won't be so cautious and sit back, we want to play our own game, and let our opponents worry about us," he said.
DPMM, the defending S.League champions, were thumped by Home in what coach Steve Kean labelled as their worst result, after his charges turned in a performance that deserved nothing from the match.
Akbar only had his team in training since June 1, but he believes the players are starting to come around to his methods and enjoying sessions.
South Korean defender Kwon Jun is set to leave the club, along with Brazilian Prime League midfielder Guilherme Rodrigues and squad player, Ahmad Nawari.
But Akbar asserted that contrary to rumours, the club will not be offloading any other player, as the Stags continue to grapple with financial issues.
"As far as I know at this point, all the players are staying with the squad… but with Shahdan Sulaiman out injured (ankle) and Izzdin Shafiq suspended, we do have a bit of a thin squad, but we'll manage," said Akbar.
"What I want to see on matchday, is the players playing with freedom, expressing themselves and making their own decisions on the pitch, but with attacking and defensive balance - that is what I will enforce on the team."
I'll never be Sundram, and Sundram isn't me; and you can't say that its right or that it's wrong, that's just how football is..
PHOTO: COURTESY OF S.LEAGUE
— New Tampines coach Akbar Nawas (above) on predecessor V Sundramoorthy
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