Singapore Premier League • October 3, 2014

Rafi In Seventh Heaven After Crucial Win


Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Tampines Rovers coach Rafi Ali was understandably pleased with his side’s 1-0 win over Home United, as he complimented his team for executing what they had practised in training.

Captain Mustafic Fahrudin scored the match-winner by heading Shaiful Esah’s free-kick into the net, and the victory lifted the Stags up to second place in the league to keep them in the title race.

“We remained composed throughout the game and we controlled the game well,” Rafi lauded.

“Chances were aplenty for us and we have been working on set-pieces in our training sessions. Thank God it worked for us tonight.”

Rafi also felt that his team’s most recent RHB Singapore Cup exit to Balestier Khalsa provided them with the ‘determination and positive attitude’ to win this game.

“After the game against Balestier, I could see the disappointment in my players’ eyes,” the former Singapore international pointed out.

“I told them that we played very well in the game but were unlucky to lose out in penalties. I urged them to keep going and do the same thing against Home.

“I knew that with their disappointment, that they could do something for this game. Our first training session after the cup game was quite dull because everyone was quiet and could not digest the defeat. But in subsequent trainings, there was laughter but the players had the sense of seriousness.”

Admitting that the win has taken a load off his players’ shoulders, Rafi now has urged the Stags to push on and display consistency.

“We were fifth and now we are second in the table,” he said.

“Any team can beat any team; I have got no say. Every team at the top five has a chance and it is a matter of which team is the most consistent.”

Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng was left feeling helpless by the result despite his preparations for the match.

“We always face a problem with Tampines’ set-piece situations because they have taller players; we know their strengths,” Lee admitted.

“It was unfortunate but we tried our best to dominate possession and penetrate whenever we could, from then on.”

While Lee tried to absolve the blame from his team, he did point out that Home had to improve in some areas; namely in concentration and consistency.

“I thank my players for their efforts and I do not want to blame them,” he said.

“I take full responsibility of the loss. If we did not create chances, then it is a different story. But tonight we created many but just could not score.

“There was a lack of concentration and consistency. We will try our best as we still have a chance for league triumph.”