Lion City Sailors coach Kim Do-hoon gets first win on third try
Sailors move to within three points of leaders Albirex after crushing Tampines 4-1
SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
LION CITY SAILORS 4
(Gabriel Quak 34, Stipe Plazibat 36, 48, Saifullah Akbar 46)
TAMPINES ROVERS 1
(Boris Kopitovic 59)
Lion City Sailors coach Kim Do-hoon finally got his first victory in the Singapore Premier League as they beat Tampines Rovers 4-1 yesterday to keep the pressure on leaders Albirex Niigata.
Still on the hunt for their first league title, the Sailors now sit three points behind four-time champions Albirex (34 points) with a game in hand.
With seven games remaining this season, Kim vowed that his team would push on in their title challenge in a bid to become the first local club to win the league since 2014.
"Every game is important, we improved on the parts that we lacked last game and we will continue to challenge every game," said the South Korean, who won the Asian Champions League (ACL) with South Korean giants Ulsan Hyundai last year.
"This win helps boost team morale and our players are constantly looking to improve and hopefully, this is the start of many good things to come."
Kim joined the club in May, with his first two games ending in 1-1 draws against Albirex and Balestier Khalsa.
In front of 500 fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday, the Sailors took the lead after 34 minutes when Stipe Plazibat punted a ball from midfield to forward Gabriel Quak, who chipped it over Tampines goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari.
Just two minutes later, Faris Ramli squared the ball for Plazibat to finish a quick counter-attack to double their lead.
The Sailors wasted no time in the second half, making it 3-0 just 20 seconds after the restart.
Faris was involved again as he fed a through-ball to Saifullah Akbar, who dinked it over Syazwan to make it 3-0, before Plazibat added his second in the 48th minute.
Tampines pulled one back in the 59th minute through Boris Kopitovic, who smashed home Zehrudin Mehmedovic's pass, but it was too little, too late for the visitors, who were looking to notch their first win since the season restarted last month.
Kim was pleased at how his players performed despite missing Brazilians Jorge Fellipe and Diego Lopes through suspension and a minor injury, respectively.
He said: "We were able to see that everyone is ready to step up. We had Hassan (Sunny) back sooner than expected, which helped boost the mood and all other experienced players played their part to push the team forward."
While there was delight for the Sailors, there was only despair for Tampines, who suffered their eighth straight loss in all competitions since May 22 and are now fourth in the league standings.
The Stags were hoping to bounce back from a difficult ACL campaign which saw them lose all six games, concede 27 goals and score just one.
They then ran into more challenges upon their return from Uzbekistan, as two players tested positive for Covid-19, putting paid to the team's plans to train in a "bubble" during their two-week quarantine.
But Tampines coach Gavin Lee refused to put the blame solely on the disruptions they faced.
He said: "We were disappointed with how the match turned out.
"The atmosphere was fantastic, with the fans in the stadium, but unfortunately, we couldn't match up to that.
"We feel that all of them (the Sailors' goals) were preventable. We didn't construct our possession well and so were exposed on the transition moments."