News • March 19, 2014
Stags Seek Win to Keep AFC Cup Dreams Alive
Written by: Kenneth Ho
Tampines Rovers who are currently at the bottom of Group H after two losses will continue their AFC Cup campaign against India’s Pune FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Requiring a win to boost their chances of progression to the knockout phase, Stags midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin stressed his side have to attain maximum points in the game.
“I think we are ready,” Fahrudin said. “All of them know tomorrow for us is a very important game especially after the first two games we have lost.
“Playing at home, [we will] try to get the advantage and win and after that the group becomes open again.”
Tampines coach Salim Moin expressed his belief in his team and agreed that they were ready for Pune, especially after earning a 3-0 win over Geylang International in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League over the weekend.
“The belief is always, I believe in my players and I believe that they can do better, and they know themselves, and the result, they can get it,” Salim said.
“You can see the last match against Geylang you can see they are much settled down they play much better football, we kept more possession.”
Salim was guarded about his side’s tactical preparation for the match against Pune, but he revealed his concerns about his players being tired after having to play in both the domestic league and in the continental competition.
“The players are a little bit fatigue because of travelling and seven days with three matches is quite hectic for the boys,” Salim shared.
“But I would say that would not be an excuse and hopefully the players will come back strongly.
Despite Tampines playing at home, Salim believed playing at Jalan Besar gave the team little advantage due to the artificial pitch used at the 8,000-capacity stadium.
“It is not easy to play on the artificial pitch because they take in so much of energy from the players and when we play there it takes about two days to recover and it is very tiring,” he said.
While most foreign teams often struggled on the artificial pitch at Jalan Besar, Pune coach Michel Snoei believed it would not pose any problems for his team.
“In India it is 50-50, some of the teams in the I-League play on this surface but we play on natural grass so it is very different for us but like everything in Singapore, the quality is fantastic and we are looking forward to it,” Snoei said.
Snoei was relatively confident about his side’s chances against the Stags, but he repeatedly emphasised that ‘it will not be easy’ for his side, especially since he felt both teams were on par with each other.
“The level of the local Indian players and level of local players in Singapore, there is not much difference,” he said.
“A little bit difference in style but the quality is not much better or much less, it is almost the same.”