Tampines Rovers can’t wait to regain their rhythm
Tampines eye a return to winning ways after losing unbeaten record
Tampines Rovers are raring to bounce back from their season's first defeat when they host Cambodia's Nagaworld FC in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group F game today.
The Stags' run of five wins and two draws ended when they lost 2-1 to Brunei DPMM in a Singapore Premier League match at Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium earlier this month.
|TAMPINES ROVERS||NAGAWORLD FC|
But, following a nine-day break, the rejuvenated Stags are already looking forward to their next unbeaten streak.
Defender Amirul Adli said at a press conference at Peninsular Excelsior Hotel yesterday that the team are hungry for a win tonight, to go a step closer towards qualifying for the AFC Cup Asean zone semi-finals.
The 23-year-old said: "We look at the big picture. The whole season has a lot of games and this is one of the setbacks.
"We'll learn from our mistakes from Brunei and we are raring to go. This loss is like a motivation for us to get back to our winning ways and do even better."
The Stags started the season with a bang, winning their first three matches in all competitions and scoring 13 goals in the process.
But their momentum seemed to be affected by last month's international break, following which they looked rusty during a 0-0 draw with Albirex Niigata.
Asked if his players will struggle again after a week off, Tampines head coach Kadir Yahaya disagreed.
He said: "It's a much-needed break for us. We've been travelling, playing and training, especially the national boys who just came back, and some back from injuries.
"We hope that this rest will give us a good performance, knowing that we have two important home games (against) Yangon and Nagaworld.
"We need these points very badly before we meet Hanoi in order to qualify."
The Stags lead Group F on seven points, with Hanoi FC close behind at four.
Only the top teams and the best runners-up from Groups F, G and H will qualify for the Asean zone semi-finals.
Before their defeat by DPMM, the Stags thrashed Nagaworld 5-1 in Phnom Penh, but Kadir has warned against complacency.
"The last score we had was not a true reflection of the game..." he said. "They have some good players and their counter-attacks are very fast and we get caught most of the time."
Nagaworld coach Meas Channa said they have identified Tampines' terror trio who must be tamed.
They are midfielder Zehrudin Mehmedovic who fires in unerring shots from distance, and wingers Ryutaro Megumi and Jordan Webb, who wreak havoc down the flanks with their dribbling skills.
The triumvirate accounted for four of the Stags' goals in the 5-1 win.
Channa added that they will be looking to contain their opponents, but the Stags are ready.
Kadir said: "We have to be cautious of the counter-attacks. At the same time, we don't have to just attack and score the first goal, but (also) know how to defend ourselves."
In another AFC Cup match tonight, Home United will face Lao Toyota in a Group H encounter in Vientiane, Laos, hoping to keep their semi-final qualification hopes alive.