News • February 2, 2014
Salim and Mustafic Ready for South China’s Battle
Written by: Khalis Rifhan
Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League defending champions Tampines Rovers are on a journey to create a new milestone for the club as they prepare to face Hong Kong outfit South China AA in the AFC Champions League play-off on Sunday.
Masterminding the Stags’ dream of a place in the group stage proper is new coach Salim Moin who is known for setting ambitious targets and entertaining style of football.
Although this is the ex-international’’s first foray into continental tournament as a head coach, he is confident and well-prepared for the challenge and rallied his troops ahead of the big clash.
“I am an ex-national player, so I know what’s the international game is all about. I took this opportunity (coaching job), as I want to take Tampines to the next round. I hope we will be able to perform above expectations against South China,” declared Salim during the pre-match press conference at the Amara Hotel on the eve of the match.
“The pressure is always there and if we progress (into the next round), I will be very proud for the team and the Singapore flag. With my presence, I hope to motivate the players to play more aggressive football and hopefully the fans will enjoy the game,” added the former Woodlands Wellington coach.
Tampines captain Mustafic Fahrudin meanwhile, shared his coach’s confidence and enthusiasm and believes that the recruitment of new players will signal a new era in the club.
The club has also welcomed back forward Noh Alam Shah, Shariff Samat and snapped up former Serbia Under-23 international Miljan Mrdakovic as the club’s marquee signing for 2014.
“We (have) played in the AFC Cup before and for the last three years, we are the S.League champions. All of us are taking this match seriously and the players are ready,” the midfield maestro said.
“This is a new season, a new beginning and seven to eight new players and we learn from last year and improve from what we did wrong so that we can do better. We strengthened the team well and we have new foreigners including senior players such as Alam Shah and Shariff. There is experience players and I believe we are stronger this year,” added Mustafic.
Owing to AFC rules which only allows four foreigners to be registered, the five-time league champions have picked Paraguayan Luis Alberto Closa ahead of compatriot Roberto Martinez Gamarra. Japanese duo Kunihiro Yamashita and Norihiro Kawakami and Mrdakovic complete the foreign quota for the Stags.
For the visitors, head coach Cheung Po Chun will undoubtedly be looking to progress to the next round and have drilled his squad to quickly adapt to the artificial surface at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
“This game is very important for us and we have the confidence for this game. Every game is difficult but the difference is away game; the weather, pitch and the local fans,” the former Hong Kong international pointed out.
“We have prepared ourselves in Hong Kong by training in artificial grass and signed four foreign players, because we have a target for this play-off. I am not how far we can go but I know we will play our hearts out in every game and try to win,” explained the 42-year old.
South China will rely on 31-year-old captain Chan Wai Ho to lead the team from the back alongside South Korean Ko Kyung Joon. Brazilian Carlos Bertoldi will anchor the team’s midfield while Sasa Kajkut and Andrew Barisic will spearhead the Hong Kong club’s attack.
The match will be played on 2nd of February (Sunday) at the Jalan Besar Stadium with kickoff slated for 7.30pm and tickets will go on sale at the Jalan Besar Stadium (North Gate) from 6pm onwards on matchday.
Adult – $6.00
Concession* – $2.00
*Students aged below 16 years and Senior Citizens aged 60 years and above have to produce their concession passes upon entry into the stadium. Concession tickets are also applicable to children, aged 7 and below without concession passes, and who require a seat in the stadium.*