Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stewart happy to keep playing 'poorly'

Balestier Khalsa coach Darren Stewart humorously hit back at his side's detractors following 3-1 win over Hougang United in the Great Eastern-YEO's S.League.

The result was enough to take Balestier up to fourth on the table and they look on track to finish inside the top half for the second season running under Stewart.

Yet, their consistent displays have been slightly tarnished by detractors who claim the Tigers are overly aggressive and play "route one" football, with some of these criticisms stemming from opposition coaches.

Nonetheless, the good-natured Stewart chose to brush off these jibes by claiming he did not matter how badly his side were playing as long as they continued to pick up three points each game.

"We didn't do too badly for a 'bad' team," he replied with a hint of sarcasm, drawing laughs from the media congregation. "I was brought in to get results and that's what we're doing.

"As long as we keep playing 'poorly' we'll be fine."

The Australian did however give a honest appraisal of his side's display against the Cheetahs and believes they can still take their game up another level, although he was proud of their overall effort.

"That was pretty close," Stewart answered, when asked if it had been a perfect performance. "We were perhaps a little bit off our game in the first half but that's okay.

"I can't complain much really; the boys aren't robots and you can't expect them to do anything about the late goal [conceded]. There would be something wrong with me if I got too upset about that.

"We're just playing decent, winning football. I was hired to win football games
and that's what we're doing.

"I think things are looking very positive as long as we keep working hard and not get ahead of ourselves, which we won't do because there are too many good people at this club to let that happen."

Stewart did however look tired when asked again about the display of Qiu, who once again proved his value to the side with a stunning strike, when he trapped a long ball on his chest and sent a 30-yard volley looping over Fadhil Salim and into the back of the net, as well as winning the penalty for Borges to convert.

"I'm not sure why I'm still having to answer questions about Qiu Li," he said. "He's just a terrific player and a wonderful person.

"People continue to want to make a case against him but he does his talking on the pitch, as he did tonight [Monday].

"That was [a] world-class [strike] but that's why he's here. We don't need to talk about Qiu Li any more but without the other players, he won't be able to do what he does."

Meanwhile, Hougang United assistant coach Amin Nasir, speaking on behalf of Johana Johari who declined to be interviewed, believes his side's failings in the attacking third had ultimately proved the difference on the night.

"The game and the final scoreline was disappointing," he said. "But congratulations to Balestier; they played well and they are a good side.

"We improved from the [RHB Singapore Cup] quarter-finals [where they lost to Balestier on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw] but didn't really create chances. Balestier took shots and we tired to create, but our combination play let us down.

"Overall, we're quite pleased with the way we tried to compete. The boys tried to put on a good show but they just did not take their chances."

The defeat also means the Cheetahs can no longer finish inside the top six, and Amin admits they will now shift their attention to pulling away from the bottom two.

"Right now we're stuck inside the bottom two," he added.
We need to analyse what went wrong and train hard for the next game."

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