Tokic the answer to Balestier's scoring woes
Coach Kraljevic says new Croatian signing is Tigers' answer to Stags' free-scoring attack
BALESTIER KHALSA v TAMPINES ROVERS
(Tonight, 7.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
It's second versus second from bottom in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League tonight.
A Tampines Rovers win over Balestier Khalsa looks like a foregone conclusion, but Tigers coach Marko Kraljevic has other ideas.
The Stags have scored 10 goals in their last two games, beating Brunei DPMM FC (4-3) and the Garena Young Lions (6-1) with attack-minded displays.
But Kraljevic said that this cavalier approach is precisely what he is looking to capitalise on.
"Yes, they have scored goals, but it has been all down to their individual players," said the German-born Croat.
"At the same time, they leave a lot of space behind which we can exploit. I'm confident we can do just that."
Kraljevic has reason to be bullish.
Since the S.League's mid-season break, Balestier have drawn with Hougang United (2-2) and beaten high-flying Home United (3-1).
The marked improvement is partly down to the signing of Croatian striker Niko Tokic in the mid-season window.
Tokic replaced injured compatriot Robert Pericic, who failed to make a single appearance this season because of a knee injury.
The newcomer has already made an instant impact, scoring against Hougang and notching two assists against Home.
Said Kraljevic: "Niko is the perfect player for us, he's working hard and helping everyone.
"He's always there in and around the box, he can hold the ball well and, in the last game, he created two goals. What more can I ask for?
"Of course, the mood around the squad is also better when you are playing better."
Tampines coach Akbar Nawas, who took over the reins from V Sundramoorthy - who was recently appointed national coach - knows his side cannot underestimate the Tigers.
"Their new striker has added confidence to the team," said the former Marine Castle player.
"They've got a good run going and it takes a good team to beat Home United 3-1.
"You can't discount them just because of their place in the table.
"We know Balestier have two good strikers and are known for getting the ball to them as quick as possible.
"It's been effective for them for a while now and makes them dangerous.
"We have to be aware of their strengths but, at the same time, not nullify our own attack."
BY THE NUMBERS
10 Tampines Rovers have scored 10 goals in their last two games, beating Brunei DPMM FC (4-3) and the Garena Young Lions (6-1).