Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tay content with Tampines' 'comfortable' lead

Tampines coah Tay Peng Kee was content after his side stretched their lead at the top of the Great Eastern-YEO's S-League with a 4-2 win over Courts Young Lions.

The result was enough to move Tampines eight points clear of second-placed Albirex Niigata (S) with a game in hand, and Tay admits he is pleased with where his side are heading into the final stretch of the season.

"We are in a comfortable position," he said. "As far as we are concerned, we are trying to wrap up the title as soon as possible.

"It's definitely a good sign to go into the [international] break with an eight-point lead.

"Hopefully, this will also demoralise the rest of the teams that are chasing us."

Nonetheless, the ex-Singapore international was slightly disappointed with how there were times when his side were put under pressure by their opponents, who have only picked up three points all season long, although he claimed he was always confident they would get the job done despite missing a number of first-teamers.

"It has always been the case for Tampines," Tay explained.

"We always struggle when we play against weaker opponents; I don't know why. This is probably because of complacency.

"Shaiful [Esah], Jufri [Taha] and our first-choice goalkeeper [Andre Martins] were all out today [Tuesday], but that's football. You have to have a strong squad.

"I was definitely not worried even when Young Lions scored the opener as we went on the aggressive after that. I like my team to play aggressive football.

"You can see we press and go forward but we can sometimes get caught out. But if it doesn't work, we are capable of changing the plan and sitting back instead."

The hosts were also without a number of key players and Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar believes there were positives to take from Tuesday's defeat.

"Of course, it was a much better performance from the boys [compared to the 2-1 defeat against Harimau Muda]," he said. "We passed the ball well and looked good in some parts of the game.

"It's not easy playing Tampines and we had a few key players out like Afiq [Yunos], [Sheikh Abdul] Hadi and [M.] Anu[manthan]. I thought we did well but I wasn't too happy with the two goals we conceded in the first half.

"Other than that, I have to give credit to the boys for coming back after the Harimau defeat. Today [Tuesday] was a positive performance."

Given his side's struggles this season, which have not been helped by the Young Lions' longstanding issues with the players' National Service (NS) commitments, the former Singapore captain was also hopeful that the league would be more considerate when scheduling their fixtures.

"I hate to say this but it's not fair for me to push the players too much because they're coming from NS duties, school and it's the fasting month as well," Aide added. "It's a bit too much for them and I think that's the reason why we haven't done well during Ramadan.

"Plus the games are being played on weekdays. I hope they [the S.League] will take this into consideration and play our games on weekends.

"All three points we got so far were from matches on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"You can see today [Tuesday] that Syazwan [Buhari] was running out of breath; he was on [NS] duty for 24 hours and only slept for four hours. But he's my best goalkeeper and I have to play him in a match likes this.

"I know NS is an issue and we have to work around it, but I hope the fixtures can be kind to us."

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