Stags aim to get back to winning ways

Tampines can count on Shaiful Esah (left) and Martin Wagner (extreme right) to get the team back to winning ways. Photo: BP Chua

The latest edition of the Eastern derby that will take place on Thursday at the Clementi Stadium will have plenty of importance for both Tampines Rovers and Geylang International. The hosts will be looking to bounce back after suffering their first defeat in the 2013 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League against Tanjong Pagar United on Sunday while the Eagles will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

In the past, Eastern derbies promised plenty of drama and action on the pitch and this one is believed to be no different. However, Stags’ head Coach Nenad Bacina has shared that it will be a completely different ball game against the Eagles this time round.

“Geylang have improved since the opening day of the season and they are on a good run (unbeaten in their last four) at the moment. It won’t be 5-0 (Tampines beat Geylang with that score line on the opening day of the season) like last time round with so many goals. They will come into this game with a different mood because they are doing well,” Bacina said during an interview with tampinesroversfc.com.

“Without two of their foreign players (Stefan Milojevic and Shotaro Ihata are nursing injuries), they have been doing relatively well. They are unbeaten in the last four matches, and I believe that they will put up a good fight against us,” he added.

Although feeling disappointed about his team’s unbeaten record in the league coming to an end after a 1-0 defeat by Tanjong Pagar United, Bacina revealed that his players are ready to put the defeat behind them, and will attempt to get back to winning ways again.

“In the last game, I thought we did well, but we just couldn’t convert the chances that we created. I don’t like to lose games, and that applies for my players too. We are not taking this defeat as a tragic one, instead, we will move on. We cannot cry over results like this. Losing is part and parcel of the game,” he revealed.

“The players will be going into this game with more desire than ever to win the game, and I believe that they will be able to put up a good performance on Thursday,” added the 42-year old.

There were positive news for Bacina as Shahdan Sulaiman and Ismadi Mukhtar have been passed fit to start training again. Shahdan had missed an entire week of football action with an illness while Ismadi missed the last four weeks of action due to injuries sustained in a traffic accident

“Shahdan is coming coming back. We have to understand that he had missed training for a week. He should be okay to play some part in the game, but I am not sure if he will start on Thursday, so we’ll see,” he said.

“Ismadi is also back after almost a month but we still cannot call on him at the moment or the next two to three games. We need to give him time to catch up on his match fitness,” he added.

The Stags are currently going through a period where they have to play three games in the span of eight days and with the tight scheduling, Bacina is expected to rotate his squad.

“The schedule is a bit tight, but we have to prepare first for tomorrow’s game before taking on Hougang United at the weekend. There may be some changes, but we will see how it goes. Right now, we are focused on Thursday’s game (against Geylang International).”

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