Singapore Premier League • June 11, 2014

Rafi Elated With Win; Kean Disappointed With Consecutive Losses


Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Tampines Rovers’ latest 2-1 win over Brunei DPMM has put coach Rafi Ali on cloud nine as they closed the gap on the league leaders to a mere three points.

“I am very happy tonight; the boys worked very hard and deserved the win,” he said after the match.

“We were dominating the game against Geylang International few days back but we could not score any goal. Today we showed our mettle after being a goal down, especially in the second- half.”

The former Tampines skipper was also full of praise for his charges, especially the three new signings who were namely Justin Pasfield, Jacob Butler and Jozef Kaplan.

“My team are a set of fighters who never stop fighting and my job is to keep pushing them in attempts to get better and more consistent,” Rafi pointed out.

“My new signings also had a tremendous game. Butler gave steel in midfield by protecting the back four and covered every blade of grass.

“Pasfield never stopped talking at the back – a trait which every goalkeeper needs, while Kaplan gave energy to the whole team and never stopped running. We need players like this to blend in with the team, and they did exactly that.”

On how the game went, the former Singapore international explained: “When we were 1-0 down, I knew we were still able to score and it was just a matter of composure..

“I made some tactical switches in the second half which paid off, and Noh Alam Shah played his guts out and deserved the winning goal.”

The Stags play Harimau Muda away next, and Rafi added that his team are already raring to go but wanted them to remain grounded.

“All my boys are looking forward to that game and the adrenaline is pumping up. I told them to keep their feet on the ground and take a game at a time and stay focused,” he said.

“I told them this season is not over yet and we are slowly closing the gap.”

His counterpart, Steve Kean was downcast with the recent run of results but believed his team would bounce back from this.

“Yes I am disappointed to lose three league games but it is not easy to play four very hard games, against Albirex Niigata (S), Warriors FC, Home United, and now Tampines,” he said.

“The good thing is that we are still ahead in the league table after all these big games.

“In the first round, we went on a fantastic run after the draw with Geylang and there is no reason why we cannot do it again.”

The former Blackburn Rovers manager however felt that his team were poor collectively.

“We always stood a chance but when the scoreline was at 1-1, we defended too deep. We need to ask more questions to the Tampines defence which we never did,” the Scot shared.

“The goals we conceded were also too soft. We easily lost our marker and we need to work better as a unit.”