Singapore Premier League • November 14, 2015
Akbar: We Need Balestier To Do Us A Favour
Written by: Shawn Lim
Tampines Rovers assistant coach Akbar Nawas is hoping for a miracle on the final day of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season after his side defeated Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 on Friday night to ensure that the title race will go down to the wire.
Rodrigo Tosi’s strike in the second-half was enough for the Stags to secure the crucial three points and cut Brunei DPMM’s lead at the top of the table to just two points before both sides play their last game of the season.
However, the Stags will have to beat Harimau Muda by two goals and hope that Balestier Khalsa can at least hold DPMM to a draw to ensure that they clinch the title.
Akbar believes that anything is possible before the final whistle blows for the last time this season and feels that his team can be proud of themselves for keeping the title race alive at this stage of the season.
“For a fact that mid-season, we came back from the dead and to come this far..to bring it to the last game, it’s definitely a fantastic achievement for us,” said the former Singapore National Under-18 head coach.
“I think things can happen..obviously we need Balestier to do us a favour..at least if they avoid a defeat and we score at least two goals, then we will win the title.
“That has to be the target for us because anything less than that, I don’t think we will be too happy about it.
“Since the results have went our way so far and lady luck has been smiling on us for the past two games, so we hope for the best on the final day of the season.”
Akbar also shared his delight at how Stags dominated the entire game at Jurong East Stadium and prevented the White Swans from playing their usual flowing football.
“(Sundram) always wanted to make sure that we press them..we don’t want them to have more of the ball, especially when they come into our half.
“We want to restrict any possession football that they might want to play or any balls that they will thread into the attacking third.
“We know Albirex is a passing team and anything that goes down the channels or in between the defenders is a problem for us.
“Credit to the players, the team followed Sundram’s instructions and did it very well. If any of players did not cover for each other or do what they supposed to do, we would not have won.
“They stuck to their task..did it very well, did not freeze and they stuck to the game plan. It was a good tactical strategy which worked.
“Everyone knows we are dangerous with our crosses..set pieces, and we scored from one of them.”
Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama shared his disappointment with the loss as it meant that the White Swans will finish the season in either third or fourth place, regardless of the result against Hougang United in their final game.
“We wanted to win the game so that we could finish in second place because we have no chance of winning the title anymore,” said the Japanese.
“We aimed to win the game today, but our attack was not very good today and we conceded a goal easily, so I am very disappointed with the result today.”
However, Okuyama also urged his charges to finish their season on a high by defeating the Cheetahs.
“We had a very long season and we faced many difficult situations like fixture changes and injuries, but we will do our best to win the last game of the season and finish the season on a good note,” said the 39-year-old.