Singapore Premier League • May 3, 2014

Rafi: Lady Luck Deserted Us


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

After their 1-1 draw with Albirex Niigata (S) on Thursday evening, Tampines Rovers interim coach Rafi Ali expressed his delight with his players’ effort in the match.

Rafi was placed in charge of the defending Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League champions after the resignation of head coach Salim Moin and he will remain at helm until a replacement is found.

“They worked extremely hard because we didn’t have much time to prepare for this game and time was not on our side. Despite that, they gave their all,” the ex-international said after the match.

“I think what they are lacking is the composure, conviction and confidence. They want to do it but they are always asking questions about themselves. I will talk to them and tell them they are good players and that they can do it because any other day I’ve seen them do that any other day.

“As a coach and the rest of the technical staff, we will try make trainings fun and motivate them as much as possible.”

Although forward Miljan Mrdakovic once again failed to find the net, Rafi was still pleased with his contribution and believed the marquee signing would be back to his best soon.

“People look at him on the negative side of things because he can’t score but if you think about it this happens to world-class strikers too and I’m happy because he’s always getting into goalscoring positions,” he explained.

“I’d rather see a striker who misses one and continues to get in there and trying to score rather than a striker who misses one or two and stops trying. I congratulated him after the game and said I was very pleased with his attitude because he kept going but luck was not on his side today.

“They are getting there, they are getting into dangerous positions so only now I have to train there and get them to be more clinical. Hopefully from there we can start scoring goals which will help build their confidence so it’s a matter of getting their confidence back up.”

His counterpart Tatsuyuki Okuyama on the other hand, was disappointed and rued his side’s inability to find the second goal which ultimately cost them the game.

“Of course we are trying to win every game but against the champions I think mentally our players were lost so I wanted them to play more confidently,” said the Japanese.

“I wanted to win the game today and I had expected to get one goal from set play and we did. Of course we wanted to score a second goal and I’m disappointed that we could not do that.”

Also, he felt the Luis Closa leveller could have been prevented.

“Of course Tampines were trying to equalise and we at that point of defence we could not manage to prevent them from scoring one goal,” he said.

“That goal was from a distance so I think we could have prevented it.”