League Cup • July 25, 2014
Tay Heaps Praise on ‘Predator’ Mrdakovic
Written by: Muhammad Yazid
Tampines Rovers were crowned the champions of the e StarHub League Cup 2014 Plate format, after a 3-0 win over Balestier Khalsa.
Top-shot Miljan Mrdakovic claimed a hat-trick as he scored all the goals for his side, adding on to his hat-trick in the semi-final game against Police SA.
The striker has bagged an emphatic six goals in two games and Tampines goalkeeping coach Matthew Tay was full of praises for Mrdakovic as he said: “He was patient enough and took the chances which came his way.”
“He scored two hat-tricks in the last two games and he is a proven goal-scorer and a predator in the box.”
The striker’s performance aside, Tay added that the team’s effort was equally pleasing as well as they dominated most part of the game.
““We were superior in playing possession football and hitting our opponents on the breaks, which is how Tampines is known to play,” he mentioned.
“We were keeping tight at the back, which is something we have not been doing regularly, causing us to leak silly goals. This clean sheet is good as we held it tight and played our normal game.
However, Balestier were given due credit for putting on a better showing in the second half and threatened to peg the Stags back on a few occasions.
“Credits to Balestier. They came back very strongly in the second half,” the former Woodlands Wellington team manager expressed.
“From the 70th minute to the 75th minute, they pressed very hard for the equaliser.
“They had a number of good chances but fortunately for us, they did not convert them. We were able to hang on to our slender lead and we had the tempo back and took off with 15 minutes to go.
“Having had control over the game, we then took our chances well and killed the game off with the second and third goal.”
Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic on the other hand was evidently disappointed.
“We had been working for this but we failed tonight,” he started off.
“We were 1-0 down and we had a few chances, with Tajeli Salamat missing two clear-cut chances.
“We just gave too much space and got punished accordingly.”
The gaffer was also upset with the result as he believed his side played well and deserved more from the game.
“We played well and I am happy with the performance. We had nothing to lose,” he stressed.
“I pushed Zulkiffli Hassim and Kim Minho upfront to more attacking positions and changed the formation to 4-3-3.
“Although Tajeli missed those chances, I praise him because as a defensive midfielder, he had chances in such attacking positions, being at the right place at the right time. Only the finishing was sad.”
The two late goals by Mrdakovic added gloss to the scoreline, and Kraljevic insisted that those two goals were a result of his tactical adjustments.
“It is my fault because I asked them to push upfront and we had lapses in defence,” he admitted.
“But I am pleased that I put in my best squad despite the challenges we have been facing.”