Tampines looking for AFC Cup boost
Tampines missing key players but coach calls for maximum effort
|TAMPINES ROVERS||HANOI FC|
Tampines Rovers will be looking to "play over our limits" as they bid to keep alive their hopes of making it out of Group G in the AFC Cup.
Ahead of their clash with Hanoi FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight, Juergen Raab's side have had to contend with fatigue, a mounting injury list and poor form.
Seven of his players travelled with the Singapore national football team for the recent Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain.
Striker Khairul Amri returned with a groin strain and joined Ismadi Mukhtar, Imran Sahib and Hafiz Rahim in the treatment room.
A rough start to the season has seen them lose five of their eight games so far.
After opening their AFC Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Felda United, they went on to suffer heavy defeats on the road, losing 5-0 to Ceres Negros and 4-0 to Hanoi.
The Stags are third in the table with three points, two behind Ceres and Hanoi, and one more than bottom-placed Felda.
Raab said: "These teams in the AFC Cup are playing at a higher level compared to the S.League.
"We have to play very well in defence and make no mistakes.
"I want us to have good ball possession and we must make use of our chances.
"We are working on finishing, but it is a process.
"We are missing important players, but those who come in must take the opportunity to step up."
The 58-year-old was also unhappy with what he perceived to be a lack of support from the S.League, who had scheduled his team to play a league match against Warriors FC three days before tonight's game. Tampines lost 1-0 to the Warriors on Saturday.
Said Raab: "I don't feel there is equal opportunity for both teams because we had to play on Saturday, while Hanoi had the weekend off.
"It is not ideal preparation, so if we want a chance to make a good result, we have to play over our limits."
Tampines skipper Madhu Mohana believes it is not mission impossible to overhaul the teams above them.
The 26-year-old defender said: "Looking at the table, we are just two points behind the top two and we have two home games out of our three remaining Group G matches, so we must get maximum points from those matches.
"We realise the quality we are up against, but we believe we can match them.
"It will be tough without some of our senior players, but we will still go all out to get three points against Hanoi."