League Cup • July 14, 2014

Rafi Laments Poor Defensive Performance


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Despite taking the lead twice in the match, Tampines Rovers were unable to secure all three points as they allowed Warriors FC to come from behind to snatch a 3-2 win in a StarHub League Cup Group B match at Clementi Stadium.

Understandably upset with his side’s defensive display, Tampines coach Rafi Ali remarked after the game: “When you concede goals like that, like schoolboys, it’s not acceptable.

“This has been going on for a while and if you don’t stop this, it will become a habit so I’ve told them [about it]. They know it themselves; they are a bunch of experienced players. We can score but we can also concede so we need to really work on that.”

Although the Stags let in three goals, Rafi refused to pin blame on reserve goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin who started in place of Justin Pasfield between the sticks.

“I’m pleased [with his performance today],” the ex-international said of the shot-stopper.

“I think he’s saved us a lot. We could have gone down 5-2 and plus when you’re defending like that we can’t really blame the goalkeeper. He was just exposed and for someone who has not been playing for a long time, he’s done really well.”

The main highlight of the match was Warriors’ Agu Casmir’s hat-trick and that earned praise from head coach Alex Weaver.

“He’s scored three really good goals tonight, the third one was a tap-in but he’s there in the right place and right time and that’s what good strikers do,” the Englishman said.

“He’s done very well and I’m really pleased for him. Overall in his game, his hold-up play and his movement was very intelligent as well.”

He however admitted that his team’s first-half performance left much to be desired but was happy with what he saw after the break.

“It was a great turnaround and a game of two halves,” Weaver enthused.

“We did well in general in the first-half. It was just we could have done a few things better tactically which we have talked about all week, especially the [part on defending from] set-plays and corners. I was not too happy about that and I addressed that in the dressing room so we tried to fix that and few things tactically.

“It’s all about the mindset and the players did things more simple in the second-half. When we play to our strengths, we are a really good team and we’ve showed that in the second-half.”