Tampines Rovers coach Juergen Raab has conceded that his team has had a tough time in their ongoing AFC Cup campaign. However, the German tactician believes the S.League side will have a good future in the continental tournament.
The Stags suffered their third straight defeat in the competition when they wasted a 1-0 lead, which they had until the 68th minute, at the Jalan Besar Stadium and ended up losing 2-1 to Vietnam's Hanoi FC on Tuesday.
With only one win from four games, the Tampines have slipped to the last spot in Group G and the chances of them progressing to the next stage are grim as only the winners of three groups of the Asean zone and the best-placed runner-up will play the zonal semi-final.
Having secured a three-year contract with the club, Raab maintained that it is important to think long term and that he is confident of getting the players gel together and produce positive results in the future.
"We made many changes in the squad before this season. I have been in charge for only two months. Naturally, things will take time to gel but you are right. So far, it has not been easy. Give us time. We are confident for the future," Raab told International Business Times Singapore.
"Our chairman, Krishna Ramachandra, has a long-term vision for our club. It is very important that we all [think] long-term."
It has been difficult for the Tampines, who started the season with a revamped unit after the exits of some big names, including Jermaine Pennant, Jordan Webb and Billy Mehmet, who played crucial part in their campaign last season.
Raab's men have found it difficult to be consistent and have lost six of the nine games they have played this season without being able to stitch consecutive victories. Injury concerns have affected the team as well with their key signing Khairul Amri not being available for their last two games after picking up a knock during his international duty at the Asian Cup Qualifiers last month.
Skipper Madhu Mohana also watched the proceedings on Tuesday from the sidelines with an injury and the players looked tired after playing two games in the span of four days.
Despite having Singapore internationals Madhu and Daniel Bennett at the heart of the defence, Tampines have conceded 12 goals, which will affect them if qualification comes down to goal-difference at the end of the group stages. No Asean team in the campaign has conceded more but Raab maintains that he has a good defensive unit and that there are a lot of options to choose from as well.
"We have good players in defence and I have many options. I do not like to single out particular players," the 58-year-old added.