League Cup • July 21, 2014

Azmi Admits Stags Were Too Good


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Tampines Rovers qualified for the StarHub League Cup Plate Final as they routed Police SA 9-0 at Clementi Stadium on Saturday evening.

Speaking after the game, Police coach Azmi Othman admitted his team had given their best but lost out in terms of fitness.

“I hope in future we will come back strong and perform much better. Credit to my players, they trained hard but they still can’t match the fitness and pace of the game,” he said.

“The problem with us is that we train only three times a week and we are unable to get all of them to train, sometimes we only have 10 or 12 players available. It is different from them [Tampines]. They train every day, have facilities and equipment and even go to the gym which we don’t.”

While resources constraints have not helped his cause, Azmi was still able to draw positives from this League Cup campaign.

“There are many things we can take back from this competition,” he stated.

“We learnt from Albirex that they play beautiful and possession football. Tanjong Pagar, they are quick and fast their local players are solid and with the quality foreigners they are a good team.

“Today you can see for yourself that we played against a superb team, they are champions of S.League and our guys learned a lot and it’s good exposure and it’s good if our local teams play against such teams and try to improve.”

His opposite number Rafi Ali on the other hand was humble in victory and gave credit to their opponents.

“I mean I could see this is coming. We are a professional outfit, we train everyday but they don’t get a chance to train everyday,” he explained.

“But credit to them, they tried to play football especially in first 15 minutes when they were sitting back and made it compact which was understandable but they’ve got some good players and they can play football.

Having blooded in the likes of Christopher Van Huizen and Joseph Taylor in this competition, Rafi believes this can only spell good for the club and ensure the senior players do not rest on their laurels.

“I’m happy with them, happy with Joey. For a boy who is 17 years of age playing in the middle of the park is not easy but he did well,” the ex-international added.

“I told him [Joseph], to give his best and I promised to give him about 45 minutes and at half-time I took him off. Christopher is getting there, he needs more game time and he needs to improve on his movement a bit more. If he works hard, we will have more young players coming into the team.

“To me, this will mean I will have a bigger pool of players to choose from and this is good to have youngsters coming in to keep the senior players on their toes and it’s only healthy to see some young talent coming up the ranks.”