Monday, April 1, 2013

Champions' mentality

Nenad Bacina believes the qualities his Tampines Rovers players showed in Friday's gritty 1-0 triumph over Home United were the hallmark of a championship side

"Definitely," he replied, when asked if the gritty win was a mark of champions. "It's not just in Singapore; you see it everywhere in the world and in the big European leagues.

"You can't always play pretty football. All of us want to play good football but you only have to look at top teams like [Barclays Premier League giants] Chelsea a few years back.

"Of course, I'm not saying Tampines are Chelsea or comparing myself to [ex-Chelsea manager Jose] Mourinho, but games like this happen.

"Home United played very well and that's no surprise - they are one of the biggest clubs in the S.League and still a very good side. We expected a tough game.

"But to be under pressure in a difficult game and still be able to survive and get a point or maybe three - that's how you do it at a big team. It's something you expect from all the top teams; getting points even when you don't play well against an equally good side."

And although the Stags are now the only team still with a 100% record in 2013, after Albirex Niigata (S) lost 2-1 to Woodlands Wellington on Tuesday, the Croat was quick to state it has not been as simple as some might have made it out to be.

"As the defending champions, perhaps everyone expected us to win our opening six games," Bacina added. "But it has not been easy.

"Of course, I have to be happy that we have managed to win all six games but we must keep our feet on the ground.

"On paper, people expect us to have 100 chances and score 90 goals in each game but playing in the S.League is not easy. There are strong teams and in every game you face good opponents."

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